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Full text of "Kitty's conquest"

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THE UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 




THE WILMER COLLECTION 

OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS 

PRESENTED BY 

RICHARD H. WILMER, JR. 



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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/kittysconquestOOking 



CHPT. CHHRLES KING'S 

Popular Military Novels. 



CAPTAIN BLAKE, 

Illustrated. i2mo. Extra cloth. $1.25. 

THE COLONEL'S DATJGHTER. 

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MARION'S FAITH. 

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STARLIGHT RANCH, and Other Stories. 
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KITTY'S CONQXTEST. 

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LARAHIE; or, The Queen of Bedlam. 

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TWO SOLDIERS, and DTJNRAVEN RANCH. 

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J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, Publishers, 

PHILADELPHIA. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 



BY 



CHARLES KING, U.S.A., 

AUTHOR OF "THE COLONEL'S DAUOHTEB.'" 




PHILADELPHIA: 



J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY. 

1891. 



Copyright, 1884, by J. B. Lippincott & Co. 



PEEFAOE. 



The incidents of this little story occurred 
some twelve years ago, and it was then that the 
story was mainly written. 

If it meet with half the kindness bestowed 
upon his later work it will more than fulfil the 
hopes of 

THE AUTHOR. 

February, 1884. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 



CHAPTER I. 



It was just after Christmas, and discontent- 
edly enougli I had left my cosy surroundings in 
New Orleans, to take a business-trip through the 
counties on the border-line between Tennessee 
and northern Mississippi and Alabama. One 
sunny afternoon I found myself on the " freight 
and passenger" of what- was termed "The Great 
Southern Mail Route." "We had been trundling 
slowly, sleepily along ever since the conductor's 
" all aboard !" after dinner; had met the Mobile 
Express at Corinth when the shadows were al- 
ready lengthening upon the ruddy, barren-look- 
ing landscape, and now, with luka just before 
us, and the warning whistle of the engine shriek- 
ing in our ears with a discordant pertinacity 
attained only on our Southern railroads, I took 
a last glance at the sun just disappearing behind 
the distant forest in our wake, drew the last 
1* 6 



Q KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

breath of life from my cigar, and then, taking 
advantage of the halt at the station, strolled back 
from the dinginess of the smoking-car to more 
comfortable quarters in the rear. 

There were only three passenger-cars on the 
train, and, judging from the scarcity of occu- 
pants, one would have been enough. Elbowing 
my way through the gaping, lazy swarms of un- 
savory black humanity on the platform, and the 
equally repulsive- looking knots of "poor white 
trash," the invariable features of every country 
stopping-place south of Mason and Dixon, I 
reached the last car, and entering, chose one of 
a dozen empty seats, and took a listless look at 
my fellow-passengers, — six in all, — and of them, 
two only worth a second glance. 

One, a young, perhaps very young, lady, so 
girlish, pefe'fe, and pretty she looked even after 
the long day's ride in a sooty car. Her seat was 
some little distance from the one into which I 
had dropped, but that was because the other 
party to be depicted was installed within two of 
her, and, with that indefinable sense of repulsion 
which induces all travellers, strangers to one 
another, to get as far apart as possible on enter- 
ing a car, I had put four seats 'twixt him and 
me, — and afterwards wished I hadn't. 

It was rude to turn and stare at a young girl, — 
travelling alone, too, as she appeared to be. I 
did it involuntarily the first time, and found my- 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 7 

self repeating the performance again and again, 
simply because I couldn't help it, — she looked 
prettier and prettier every time. 

A fair, oval, tiny face; a somewhat super- 
cilious nose, and not-the-least-so mouth ; a 
mouth, on the contrary, that even though its 
pretty lips were closed, gave one the intangible 
yet positive assurance of white and regular 
teeth ; eyes whose color I could not see because 
their drooping lids were fringed with heavy 
curving lashes, but which subsequently turned 
out to be a soft, dark gray ; and hair ! — hair that 
made one instinctively gasp with admiration, 
and exclaim (mentally), " If it's only real !" — hair 
that rose in heavy golden masses above and 
around the diminutive ears, almost hiding them 
from view, and fell in braids (not braids either, 
because it ivasn't braided) and rolls — only that 
sounds breakfasty — and masses again, — it must 
do for both, — heavy golden masses and rolls and 
waves and straggling offshoots and disorderly 
delightfulness all down the little lady's neck, 
and, landing in a lump on the back of the seat, 
seemed to come surging up to the top again, 
ready for another tumble. 

It looked as though it hadn't been " fixed" 
since the day before, and yet as though it would 
be a shame to touch it; and was surmounted, 
" sat upon," one might say, by the jauntiest of 
little travelling- hats of some dark material (don't 



g KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

expect a bachelor, and an elderly one at that, to 
be explicit on such a point), this in turn being 
topped by the pertest little mite of a feather 
sticking bolt upright from a labyrinth of beads, 
bows, and buckles at the side. 

More of this divinity was not to be viewed 
from my post of observation, as all below the 
fragile white throat with its dainty collar and 
the handsome fur " boa," thrown loosely back 
on account of the warmth of the car, was under- 
going complete occultation by the seats in front; 
yet enough was visible to impress one with a 
longing to become acquainted with the diminu- 
tive entirety, and to convey an idea of cultivation 
and refinement somewhat unexpected on that 
particular train, and in that utterly unlovely 
section of the country. 

Naturally I wondered who she was; where 
she was going; how , it happened that she, so 
young, so innocent, so be-petted and be-spoilt in 
appearance, should be journeying alone through 
the thinly settled counties of upper Mississippi. 
Had she been a "through" passenger, she would 
have taken the express, not this grimy, stop-at- 
every-shanty, slow-going old train on which we 
were creeping eastward. 

In fact, the more I peeped, the more I mar- 
velled ; and I found myself almost unconsciously 
inaua-uratino- a detective movement with a view 
to ascertaining her identity. 



KITTTS CONqUEST. 9 

All this time mademoiselle was apparently 
Bereiiely unconscious of my scrutiny and deeply 
absorbed in some object — a book, probably — in 
her lap. A stylish Russia-leather satchel was 
hanging among the hooks above her head, — evi- 
dently her property, — and those probably, too, 
were her initials in monogram, stamped in gilt 
upon the flap, too far off for my fading eyes to 
distinguish, yet tantalizingly near. 

Now I'm a lawyer, and as such claim an in- 
disputable right to exercise the otherwise femi- 
nine prerogative of yielding to curiosity. It's 
our business to be curious ; not with the sordid 
views and mercenary intents of Templeton Jitt; 
but rather as Dickens's " Bar" was curious, — 
affably, apologetically, professionally curious. In 
fact, as " Bar" himself said, " we lawyers are 
curious," and take the same lively interest in the 
affairs of our fellow-men (and women) as maiden 
aunts are popularly believed to exercise in the 
case of a pretty niece with a dozen beaux, or a 
motherrin-law in the daily occupations of the 
happy husband of her eldest daughter. Why 
need I apologize further ? I left my seat ; zig- 
zagged down the aisle; took a drink of water 
which I didn't want, and, returning, the long 
look at the monogram which I did. 

There they were, two gracefully intertwining 
letters ; a " C" and a " K." Now was it C. K. 
or K C. ? K C. K., what did it stand for ? 



10 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

I thought of all manner of names as I regained 
my seat J some pretty, some tragic, some com- 
monplace, none satisfactory. Then I concluded 
to begin over; put the cart before the horse, and 
try K C. 

Now, it's ridiculous enough to confess to it, 
but Ku-Klux was the first thing I thought of; 
K. C. didn't stand for it at all, but Ku-Klux 
would force itself upon my imagination. Well, 
everything was Ku-Klux just then. Congress 
was full of them ; so was the South ; — Ku-Klux 
had brought me up there; in fact I had spent 
most of the afternoon in planning an elaborate 
line of defence for a poor devil whom I knew to 
be innocent, however blood-guilty might have 
been his associates. Ku-Klux had brought that 
lounging young cavalryman (the other victim 
reserved for description), who — confound him — 
had been the cause of my taking a metaphorical 
back seat and an actual front one on entering 
the car; but Ku-Klux couldn't have brought her 
there; and after all, what business had I bothei- 
ing my tired brains over this young beauty ? T 
was nothing to her, why should she be such a 
torment to me ? 

In twenty minutes we would be due at Sand- 
brook, and there I was to leave the train and 
jog across the country to the plantation of Judge 
Summers, an old friend of my father's and of 
mine, who had written me to visit him on ray 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. U 

trip, tliat we might consult together over some 
intricate cases that of late had been occupying 
his attention in that vicinity. In fact, I was too 
elderly to devote so much thought and specula- 
tion to a damsel still in her teens, so I resolutely 
turned eyes and tried to turn thoughts to some- 
thing else. 

The lamps were being lighted, and the glare 
from the one overhead fell full upon my other 
victim, the cavalryman. I knew him to be such 
from the crossed sabres in gold upon his jaunty 
forage cap, and the heavy array cloak which was 
muffled cavalier-like over his shoulders, display- 
ing to vivid advantage its gorgeous lining of 
canary color, yet completely concealing any in- 
terior garments his knightship might be pleased 
to wear. 

Something in my contemplation of this young 
warrior amused me to that extent that I won- 
dered he had escaped more than a casual glance 
before. Lolling back in his seat, with a huge 
pair of top boots spread out upon the cushion in 
front, he had the air, as the French say, of thor- 
ough self-appreciation and superiority; he was 
gazing dreamily up at the lamp overhead and 
whistling softly to himself, with what struck me 
forcibly as an affectation of utter nonchalance; 
what struck me still more forcibly was that he 
did not once look at the young beauty so close 
behind him ; on the contrary, there was an evi- 



12 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

dent attempt on his part to appear suMimely in- 
different to her presence. 

Now that's very unusual in a young man under 
the circumstances, isn't it? I had an idea that 
these Charles O'Malleys were heart-smashers; 
but this conduct hardly tallied with any of my 
preconceived notions on the subject of heart- 
smashing, and greatly did I marvel and conjec- 
ture as to the cause of this extraordinary diver- 
gence from the manners and customs of young 
men, — soldiers in particular, when, of a sudden, 
Mars arose, threw off his outer vestment, emerged 
as it were from a golden glory of yellow shelter- 
tent; discovered a form tall, slender, graceful, 
and erect, the whole clad in a natty shell-jacket 
and riding-breeches ; stalked up to the stove in 
the front of the car ; produced, filled, and lighted 
a smoke-begrimed little meerschaum; opened 
the door with a snap; let himself out with a 
bang; and disappeared into outer darkness. 

Looking quickly around, I saw that the fair 
face of C. K. or K. C. was uplifted ; furthermore, 
that there was an evident upward tendency on 
the part of the aforementioned supercilious nose, 
entirely out of proportion with the harmonious 
and combined movement of the other features; 
furthermore, that the general effect was that of 
maidenly displeasure; and, lastly, that the evi- 
dent object of such divine wrath was, beyond all 
peradventure, the vanished knight of the sabre. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 13 

" Now, my lad," thought I, " what have you 
done to put your foot in it ?" 

Just then the door reopened, and in came, not 
Mars, but the conductor ; and that functionary, 
proceeding direct to where she sat, thus addressed 
the pretty object of my late cogitations (I didn't 
listen, but I heard) : 

" It'll be all right, miss. I telegraphed the 
judge from luka, and reckon he'll be over with 
the carriage to meet you ; but if he nor none of 
the folks ain't there, I'll see that you're looked 
after all right. Old Jake Biggs '11 be there, most 
like, and then you're sure of getting over to the 
judge's to-night anyhow." 

Here I pricked up my ears. Beauty smilingly 
expressed her gratitude, and, in smiling, corrob- 
orated my theory about the teeth to the most 
satisfactory extent. 

" The colonel," continued the conductor, who 
would evidently have been glad of any excuse to 
talk with her for hours, " the colonel, him and 
Mr. Pe}i:on, went over to Holly Springs three 
days ago; but the smash-up on the Mississippi 
Central must have been the cause of their not 
getting to the junction in time to meet you. 
That's why I brought you along on this train ; 
'twasn't no use to wait for them there." 

" Halloo !' thought I at this juncture, " here's 
my chance ; he means Judge Summers by ' the 
judge's,' and ' the colonel' is Harrod Summers, 



14 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

of course, and Ned Peyton, that young reprobate 
who has been plajdng fast and loose among the 
marshals and sheriffs, is the Mr. Peyton he 
speaks of; and this must be some friend or rela- 
tive of Miss Pauline's going to visit her. The 
gentlemen have been sent to meet her, and have 
been delayed by that accident. I'm in luck;" so 
up I jumped, elbowed the obliging conductor to 
. one side ; raised my hat, and introduced myself, 
— " Mr. Brandon, of New Orleans, an old friend 
of Judge Summers, on my way to visit him ; 
delighted to be of any service ; pray accept my 
escort," etc., etc. — all somewhat incoherent, but 
apparently satisfactory. Mademoiselle graciously 
acknowledged my offer ; smilingly accepted my 
services ; gave me a seat by her side ; and we 
were soon busied in a pleasant chat about "Pau- 
line," her cousin, and " Harrod," her other 
cousin and great admiration. Soon I learned 
that it was K. C, that K. C. was Kitty Carring- 
ton ; that Kitty Carrington was Judge Sum- 
mers's niece, and that Judge Summers's niece 
was going to visit Judge Summers's niece's 
uncle; that they had all spent the months of 
September and October together in the north 
when she first returned from abroad; that she 
had been visiting " Aunt Mary" in Louisville 
ever since, and that "Aunt Mary" had been with 
her abroad for ever so long, and was just as good 
and Bweet as she could be. In fact, I was fast 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 15 

learning all my charming little companion's 
family history, and beginning to feel tolerably 
well acquainted with and immensely proud of 
her, when the door opened with a snap, closed 
with a bang, and, issuing from outer darkness, 
re-entered Mars. 

Now, when Mars re-entered, he did so pretty 
much as I have seen his brother button-wearers 
march into their company quarters on inspection 
morning, with an air of determined ferocity and 
unsparing criticism ; but when Mars caught sight 
of me, snugly ensconced beside the only belle on 
the train, the air suddenly gave place to an ex- 
pression of astonishment. He dropped a gaunt- 
let; picked it up; turned red; and then, with 
sudden resumption of lordlyindifterence, plumped 
himself down into his seat in as successful an at- 
tempt at expressing ""Who cares?" without say- 
ing it, as I ever beheld. 

Chancing to look at Miss Kitty, I immediately 
discovered that a little cloud had settled upon 
her fair brow, and detected the nose on another 
rise, so said I, — 

" What's the matter ? Our martial friend 
seems to have fallen under the ban of your dis- 
pleasure," and then was compelled to smile at 
the vindictiveness of the reply : 

" He ! he has indeed ! Why, he had the im- 
pertinence to speak to me before you came in; 
asked me if I was not the Miss Carrinffton ex- 



16 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

pected at Judge Summers's ; actually offered to 
escort me there, as the colonel had failed to meet 
me!" 

" Indeed ! Then I suppose I, too, am horribly 
at fault," said I, laughing, " for I've done pretty 
much the same thing ?" 

" Nonsense !" said Miss Kit. " Can't you un- 
derstand ? He's a Yankee, — a Yankee officer ! 
You don't suppose I'd allow myself, a Southern 
.girl whose home was burnt by Yankees and 
whose only brother fought all through the war 
against them, — you don't suppose I'd allow my- 
self to accept any civility from a Yankee, do 
you ?" and the bright eyes shot a vengeful glance 
at the dawdling form in front, and a terrific pout 
straightway settled upon her lips. 

Amused, yet unwilling to offend, I merely 
smiled and said that it had not occurred to me ; 
but immediately asked her how long before my 
entrance this had happened. 

" Oh, about half an hour; he never made more 
than one attempt." 

" "What answer did you give him ?" 

" Answer ! — why ! I couldn't say much of 
anything, you know, but merely told him I 
wouldn't trouble him, and said it in such a way 
that he knew well enough what was meant. He 
took the hint quickly enough, and turned red as 
fire, and said very solemnly, * I ask your par- 
don,' put on his cap and marched back to his 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 17 

seat." Here came a pretty little imitation of 
Mars raising his chin and squaring his shoulders 
as he walked off. 

I smiled again, and then began to think it all 
over. Mars was a total stranger to me. I had 
never seen him before in my life, and, so long as 
we remained on an equal footing as strangers to 
the fair K. C, I had been disposed to indulge in 
a little of the usual jealousy of " military inter- 
ference," and, from my exalted stand-point as a 
man of the world and at least ten years his senior 
in age, to look upon him as a box' with no other 
attractions than his buttons and a good figure ; 
but Beauty's answer set me to thinking. I was 
a Yankee, too, only she didn't know it; if she 
had, perhaps Mars would have stood the better 
chance of the two. I, too, had borne arms 
against the Sunny South (as a valiant militia- 
man when the first call came in '61), and had only 
escaped wearing the uniform she detested from 
the fact that our regimental rig was gray, and 
my talents had never conspired to rai^e me above 
the rank of lance-corporal. I, too, had partici- 
pated in the desecration of the " sacred soil" 
(digging in the hot sun at the* first earthworks 
we threw up across the Long Bridge); in fact, 
if she only knew it, there was probably more 
reason, more real cause, for resentment against 
me, than against the handsome, huffy stripling 
two seats in front. 

6 2* 



18 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

He was a "Yank," of course; but judging 
from the smooth, ruddy cheek, and the downi- 
est of downy moustaches fringing his upper lip, 
had but just cut loose from the apron-strings of 
his maternal West Point. Why ! he must have 
been at school when we of the old Seventh 
tramped down Broadway that April afternoon 
to the music of " Sky-rockets," half drowned in 
stentorian cheers. In fact, I began, in the few 
seconds it took me to consider this, to look upon 
Mars as rather an ill-used individual. Very 
probably he was stationed somewhere in the 
vicinity, for loud appeals had been made for 
regular cavalry ever since the year previous, 
when the Ku-E[lux began their devilment in the 
neighborhood. Very probably he knew Judge 
Summers ; visited at his plantation ; had heard 
of Miss Kitty's coming, and was disposed to 
show her attention. Meeting her on the train 
alone and unescorted, he had done nothing more 
than was right in offering his services. He had 
simply acted as a gentleman, and been rebuffed. 
Ah, Miss Kitty, you must, indeed, be very young, 
thought I, and so asked, — 

. " Have you been long in the South since the 
war. Miss Carrington ?" 

"I? Oh, no ! We lived in Kentucky before 
the war, and when it broke out mother took me 
abroad. I was a little bit of a girl then, and 
was put at school in Paris, but mother died very 



KITTTS CONQUEST. 19 

soon afterwards, and then auntie took charge of 
me. Why, I only left school last June !" 

Poor little Kit ! her father had died when she 
was a mere baby; her mother before the child 
Lad reached her tenth year; their beautiful old 
home in Kentucky had been sacked and burned 
during the war ; and George, her only brother, 
after fighting for his " Lost Cause" until the last 
shot was fired at Appomattox, had gone abroad, 
married, and settled there. Much of the large 
fortune of their father still remained ; and little 
Kit, now entering upon her eighteenth year, 
was the ward of Judge Summers, her mother's 
brother, and quite an heiress. 

All this I learned, partly at the time, princi- 
pally afterwards from the judge himself; but 
meantime there was the rebellious little fairy at 
my side with all the hatred and prejudice of ten 
years ago, little dreaming how matters had 
changed since the surrender of her beloved Lee, 
or imagining the quantity of oil that had been 
poured forth upon the troubled waters. 



CHAPTER 11. 

The " Twenty minutes to Sandbrook" liad 
become involved in difficulty. Interested in my 
cbat with Kitty, I had failed to notice that we 
were stopping even longer than, usual at some 
mysterious locality where there was even less of 
any apparent reason for stopping at all. All 
without was darkness. I pushed open the win- 
dow, poked out my head, and took a survey. 
All was silence save the hissing of the engine 
way ahead, and one or two voices in excited con- 
versation somewhere near the baggage-car and 
by the fence at the roadside. Two lights, lan- 
terns apparently, were flitting rapidly about. I 
wondered at the delay, but could assign no cause 
in reply to the natural question Miss Kit asked 
as I drew in my head. 

Mars opened his window as I closed niine, 
looked out a moment, then got up, gave himself 
a stretch, and stalked out; this time without 
slamming the door ; a bang would have been too 
demonstrative in that oppressive silence. In one 
minute he came back with a quick, nervous step, 
picked up a belt and holster he had left at his 
20 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 21 

seat, and, witliout a glance at us, turned sharply 
back to the door again. As he disappeared, I 
saw his hand working at the butt of the revolver 
swung at his hip. Something was wrong. I 
knew that the Ku-Klux had been up to mischief 
in that vicinity, and the thought flashed upon 
me that they were again at work. Looking 
around, I saw that three of our four fellow- 
passengers had disappeared. They were ill- 
favored specimens, for I remembered noticing 
them just before we stopped, and remarked that 
they were talking earnestly and in low tones to- 
gether at the rear end of the car. The other 
passenger was an old lady, spectacled and rheu- 
matic. "Without communicating my suspicions 
to my little charge, I excused myself; stepped 
quietly out ; swung oflT the car, and stumbled up 
the track toward the lights. 

A group of six or eight men was gathered at 
the bagfifage-car. About the same number were 
searching along the fence, all talking excitedly. 
I hailed a brakeman and asked what was the 
matter. 

" Ku-Klux, sir ! Tried to rob the express ! 
There was two of them in mask jumped in with 
their pistols and belted the agent over the head 
and laid him out ; but afore they could get into 
the safe, the baggage-master, Jim Dalton, came 
in, and he yelled and went for 'em. We was 
running slow up grade, and they jumped off"; 



22 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

Jim and the conductor after them; that's whj 
we stopped and backed down.". 

" Which way did they go ?" I asked. 

" Took right into the bush, I reckon. That 
lieutenant and another feller has gone in through 
here, and Bill here says he seen three other fel« 
lers light out from the back car, — the one you 
was in, sir. That's enough to catch them if 
they're on the trail." 

" Catch them !" I exclaimed. " Those three 
men in our car were of the same gang, if any- 
thing, and that makes five to our four." 

" Yes, by G — d!" said another of the party, a 
sturdy-looking planter ; " and what's more, I 
believe they've got a ranch in hereabouts and 
belong to Hank Smith's gang. There ain't a 
meaner set of cut-throats in all Dixie." 

"Then, for heaven's sake, let's go in and hunt 
up our party !" said I, really apprehensive as to 
their safety. Three or four volunteered at once. 
Over the fence we went, and on into the pitchy 
darkness beyond. Stumbling over logs and 
cracking sticks and leaves, squashing through 
mud-holes and marshy ground, we plunged 
ahead, until a minute or two brought us panting 
into a comparatively open space, and there we 
paused to listen. Up to this time I had heard 
not a sound from the pursuit, and hardly knew 
which way to turn. Each man held his breath 
and strained his ears. 



KITTY'S CONqUEST. 23 

Another minute and it came, — well on to the 
front, — a yell, a -shot, another shot, and then, — 
" This way !" " This way !" " Here they are !" 
The rest was drowned by our own rush, as we 
once more plunged into the thicket and on to- 
wards the shouts. All of us were armed in one 
way or another, — it is rare enough that any man 
goes otherwise in that section of the country, — 
and to me there was a terrible excitement about 
the whole affair, and my heart came bounding 
up to my throat with every stride. 

One or two more shots were heard, and on we 
kept until, just as every man was almost breath- 
less and used up, we were brought to a sudden 
stop on the steep bank of a bayou that stretched 
far to either side of our path, right and left, com- 
pletely barring farther progress. 

In blank amazement, and utterly at a loss 
what to do, we were gazing stupidly in one an- 
other's faces, as one after another we gathered 
on the brink, when there came a sudden excla- 
mation from the midst of us, — "Who's that?" 
I jumped, thanks to startled nerves, and looked 
around. 

A dark form came creeping slowly up the 
bank, and a weak voice said, — 

" Don't shoot, fellows. I'm all right, but they 
nigh onto finished me, 'and they've got Hank 
Smith away anyhow." 

"W^e crowded around him with questions ; but 



24 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

he was faint and sick and the blood was stream- 
ing from a cut on his forehead. A long pull at 
a flask tendered by some sympathetic soul in the 
group revived him enough to tell his experi- 
ence. 

" Me and the lieutenant took out through the 
open until we had to take to the bush. Didn't 
see the conductor nor Jim anywhere, but we 
gained on the Kluxers. Pretty soon we heard 
'em busting through the bushes and heard 'em 
holler. I got blowed, but the lieutenant, he 
went ahead like as though he'd done nothing 
but jump since he was a pup. I never seen such 
a kangaroo. He got clean out of sight, and all 
of a sudden I heard him holler ; and then came 
a couple o' shots ; and pretty quick I came upon 
him and another cuss just more than going for 
one another in the bushes. The Yankee had 
him under, though, and had winged him on the 
run. "When I came up he says to me, says he, 
* You look out for this man now. He can't hurt 
you, but if he squirms, you put a hole in him. 
I'm going on after the others.' So on he went, 
and I took a look round. I'd sat down on the 
cuss to make sure I had him, and my pistol at 
his ear. He was lyin' right here a-glarin' up at 
me, and the moment I got a good, square look 
at his face, d — n my- eyes if it wasn't Hank 
Smith ! Then I began to feel bully ; and just 
then I heard some other fellows running up, and 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 25 

thought it was our crowd, so I yelled out that I 
was here and had Hank Smith all right ; and he 
kinder grinned ; and they hollered ' bully' too ; 
and next thing I knew one of 'em ran up and 
fetched me a wipe over the head and rolled me 
off down the bank, and there I've been mud- 
hugging ever since. 

"I was stunned, but knew enough to lie quiet, 
and they got into some kind of a boat and went 
paddling off across the creek; but Hank was 
groaning and cussing so that I couldn't hear 
nothing but him. He swore by all that was holy 
that he'd have that Yank's heart's-blood before 
the month was out, and I tell you the lieutenant 
had better keep his eye peeled or he'll do it." 

So we had lost him after all ! It was too bad ! 
and so said the conductor and basrffaore-master 
when they rejoined us a few minutes after, bring- 
ing with them the cavalryman, all three out of 
breath, covered with mud and scratches, and the 
latter looking very white and saying but little. 
I noticed that his handkerchief was bound tightly 
round his left hand, and divined the cause at 
once. My respect for Mars was rising every 
minute. He took a pull at the flask, looked re- 
vived, and as we all turned moodily back to the 
train, I asked him about his hurt. " ITothing 
but a clip on the hand," said he; "but I suppose 
it bled a good deal before I noticed it, and made 
me a little faint after the row was over. I sus- 

V 3 



26 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

pected those fellows who were in our car; in 
fact, had been sent up to Corinth to look after 
one or two just such specimens, and was on my 
w^ay back to my troop by this train. If that man 
was Hank Smith, as they seem to think, I would 
almost rather have lost my commission than 
him." Mars's teeth came together solidly as he 
gave vent to this sentiment, and his strides un- 
consciously lengthened so that I had to strike an 
amble to keep up. 

By this time we had worked our way back 
into a comparatively open space again, and could 
see the dim lights of the train several hundred 
yards off. The rest of our little party kept 
crowding around us and offering my young hero 
cordial expressions of sympathy for his hurt, 
ani, in homely phrase, many a compliment on 
his plucky fight. Mars took it all in a laughing 
sort of way, but was evidently too disgusted 
at the escape of his bird to care to talk much 
about anything. Nevertheless, before we got 
back to the train I gave him my name, and, 
as an old friend of Judge Summers's, whom I 
presumed he knew, trusted that I might meet 
him frequently, and that we might become better 
acquainted. 

" Thank you, Mr. Brandon," he answered ; " I 
have heard the judge speak of you, and am 
sorry I did not know sooner who you were. My 
name is Amory." 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 27 

" Have you been long in the South ?" I asked. 

"IS'o, sir; only a month or two. In fact," — 
and here something like a blush stole up to the 
young fellow's cheek, — "I only graduated in this 
last class — '71 — from the Academy, and so have 
seen but little of any kind of service." 

" You're soldier all over, at any rate," thought 
I, as I looked at the erect, graceful figure beside 
me; and wondered — my thoughts suddenly re- 
verting to Miss Kitty — how a young girl could 
find it in her heart to snub such a handsome 
fellow as that, Yank or no Yank. 

A few strides more brought us to the train, 
where Amory, whose gallantry had already been 
noised abroad among the passengers, was imme- 
diately surrounded by an excited group of non- 
combatants, while I jumped into our car to see 
how my little protegee had fared during our ab- 
sence. She looked vastly relieved at my reappear- 
ance, having of course learned the true state of 
affairs soon after our sudden departure. I told her 
briefly what had happened, taking rather a mis- 
chievous delight in dilating upon Mars's achieve- 
ment, and affecting not to notice the expres- 
sion of mingled contempt and incredulity that 
promptly appeared in her pretty face. Mars 
himself did not reappear : he had gone into the 
baggage-car to bathe his hand and accept the 
eager attentions of one or two Africans, native 
and to the manner born, who were vying with 



28 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

one another in brushing off the dirt from his 
snugly-fitting uniform. He was still surrounded 
by a knot of passengers and train-hands when I 
went forward to see how he was getting along, 
which I did when the train started, but we ex- 
changed a cordial grip of the hand ; and parted 
with the promise of meeting at " the judge's," 
or the cavalry camp, a few miles beyond, within 
the next two or three days. 

The w^histle for Sandbrook was just beginning 
as I rejoined Miss Kitty, and, after a vigorous life 
of at least two minutes, wound up in a dismal 
whine as we rolled in among the lights at the sta- 
tion. Yes, there they were, ready and waiting 
for us. The genial, gray-haired old judge and 
Miss Pauline herself, his only and devoted daugh- 
ter, in whose arms Miss Kit was rapturously en- 
folded the instant she hopped from the platform. 
There, too, was old Jake Biggs, whom the con- 
ductor had mentioned as mademoiselle's escort 
in case no one else appeared, — Jake and his boon 
companion, his faithful old horse, "Bob," so 
named in honor of General Lee. Jake was an 
old colored servant of the Summers family, and 
had followed his " young massa," Harrod Sum- 
mers, all through the war; had seen him rise 
from subaltern to colonel ; had nursed him 
through wounds and illness; and at last when 
the war was over, and Harrod, who had gone 
forth with the enthusiasm and ardor of a boy, 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 29 

returned to his father's home, old Jake content- 
edly followed him, and settled down in one of 
the few log cabins that remained on the almost 
ruined estate of the Summers'. Jake was a 
" free nigger" now, but the world to him was 
wrapped up in old associations and " Marss' 
Harrod." No such soldier ever had lived as his 
" cunnel," no such statesman as the judge; no 
such belle as Missy Pauline. And Jake not only 
would not leave them, but in a vague and chival- 
ric manner he stumbled about the premises, lord- 
ing it over the young niggers and making mighty 
pretence at earning an independent livelihood for 
himself by " doin' chores" around the neighbor- 
hood, and in hauling loads from the depot to the 
different plantations within a few miles' radius 
of Sandbrook. He had managed to scrape up a 
dilapidated cart and harness somewhere or other, 
and poor old Bob furnished, greatly to his dis- 
gust, the draft and motive power. Having been 
a fine and spirited saddle-horse in his younger 
days. Bob had naturally rebelled at the idea of 
coming down to the level of the plantation mules, 
and had shown something of his former self in 
the vigorous and determined remonstrance which 
resulted on the occasion of Jake's first experi- 
ments with the harness ; but beyond a temporary 
dislocation of buckles, straps, and dashboard, 
and a volley of African anathemas and " Whoa 
da's" from his master, poor old Bob's rebellion 
8* 



30 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

had accomplished nothing, and he had finally set- 
tled down into a resigned and dreamy existence, 
and went plodding about the vicinity with the 
asthmatic cart at his heels, a victim to the vicis- 
situdes of war. 

Jake was a pet of mine, and had amused me 
very much on the occasion of my first visit to the 
judge's, and that's why I tell so long a rigmarole 
about him. He stood there, a little aloof from 
the " quality folks," grinning and bowing, and 
making huge semicircular sweeps with his bat- 
tered old hat, in his anxiety to do proper honor 
to the judge's guests. 

I had a chance to receive my especial welcome 
while Miss Kit was being almost devoured by 
her relatives ; and presently the baggage was all 
pitched oflf; the train moved on with a part- 
ing whoop ; Mars appeared at the rear door and 
gave me a farewell wave of the hand ; and then, 
leaving to Jake and Bob the responsible duty 
of transporting the young lady's trunks, we 
four — Miss Summers and Miss Kit, the judge 
and I — were duly ensconced in the comfortable 
old carriage, and went jolting off homcAvard. 

Mr. Summers and I had much to talk about, 
and finding it impossible to get a word in edge- 
wise with the two young ladies, who were fond- 
ling, fiuttering, cooing, and chattering on the 
back seat in the most absorbed manner imag- 
inable, we gradually drifted off into our ]aw 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 31 

business and let them gossip away and exchange 
volleys of news and caresses. 

The judge was deeply interested in my account 
of the adventure with the Ku-Klux, and much 
concerned about Amory's hurt. 

I learned from him of the desperate and law- 
less character of the men who were generally 
believed to be the prominent members of the 
gang, and the perpetrators of the dastardly out- 
rages that had been so recently inflicted both 
upon the negroes and the whites. The people 
were terrified beyond expression; several had 
been driven from the country ; several had been- 
shot down in cold blood. A defenceless girl who 
had been sent down from the North as teacher 
of the freedmen's school, had been dragged from 
her bed at midnight and brutally whipped by 
some cowardly ruffians. The sherifi", who had 
arrested one of the suspected parties, was threat- 
ened in an anonymous letter with death if he 
failed to release his prisoner within twenty-four 
hours. He called upon the citizens for assist- 
ance, but none was given, for the Union people 
were too few. A dozen men in mask surrounded 
his house the next night; his wife heard tho 
strange noise, and went to the door ; opened it, 
and was shot dead in her tracks. The jail was 
forced, the prisoner released and spirited off 
beyond the limits of the State. 

All this was going on, when, to the great joy 



32 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

of peace-loving people, and undisguised anger of 
the unreconstructed, a troop of United States 
cavalry came suddenly to the scene. Several 
arrests of known murderers and marauders wore 
made ; and, until that very evening, nothing 
more had been heard of the dreaded Ku-Klux. 
Indeed, it was by some persons believed that 
their organization was broken up, and nothing 
but the positive testimony of one of their own 
neighbors, the man to whom Amory had turned 
over his prisoner, would induce the citizens 
generally to believe that Hank Smith himself 
was concerned in the attempted robbery of the 
express car. The cavalry had been there just 
about a month when this affair took place. 



CHAPTER III. 

Miss Kitty's tongue had been far from idie 
all the time that the judge and I had been talking 
over these matters, but it was only just before 
we reached our destination that I heard her 
telling Miss Summers of the events of the even- 
ing. The moment she mentioned that our lieu- 
tenant was hurt, Miss Pauline started and ex- 
claimed, — 

" Oh, Kitty ! You don't mean it ! What will 
Major Vinton say?" 

" Who is Major Yinton?" said Miss Kit. 

" Major Yinton is the commanding officer of 
the cavalry, and Mr. Amory is one of his lieu- 
tenants. Father knows them both very well, 
and the major is with us almost every day," was 
the answer. 

Miss Kit's eyes must have been as big as 
saucers when she heard that. I couldn't see, 
but knew it when she exclaimed, in tones almost 
horror-stricken, — 

''• Oh, Pauline ! Do you mean to tell me that 
uncle and you receive Yankee officers ! I wouldn't 
have believed it !" 

" You don't know him, Kitty," was Miss Sum- 
e 83 



34 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

mers's quiet, answer. " I believe that we owe 
father's life to him, and I know that, but for him, 
none of us could have remained here. He is a 
thorough gentleman, and you'd like him if you 
only knew him as we do. As for Mr. Amory, 
he is only a boy, to be sure ; but the major says 
he is a fine officer, and I know that he is a real 
nice fellow." 

Miss Kit relapsed into amazed silence; the 
judge added some few gentle words of reproof 
for her treatment of the youngster ; and I was 
smiling to myself over the whole affiiir, when we 
drove up to the main entrance of their once 
beautiful home. A tall, soldierly-looking man 
opened the door, exchanged a word of greeting 
with Miss Summers as he assisted the ladies to 
alight, and then, as they scurried away up the 
stairs, I was introduced to Major Vinton. 

Now, though we had never met before, the 
major's name was by no means unfamiliar. "We 
were both New Yorkers; both had struggled 
through Columbia, and had many a wrestle with 
Anthon and Drisler; both had rushed to arms 
in heroic style and tramped off for "Washington 
at the first call for troops. But I had speedily 
tramped back again ; while he remained, chose 
the cavalry arm of the service, fought his way up 
to the command of his regiment; and when, in 
1865, his services were no longer needed, sheathed 
his sabre ; put aside his well-worn regimentals ; 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 35 

tried hard to interest himself in some civil pur- 
suit; took a brief tour abroad, returned just as 
the new organization of the regular army was 
being made, and meeting one night a joyous 
bevy of his old comrades, regular and volunteer, 
with whom he had fought over every field from 
Bull Run to Five Forks, the old fire was fanned 
into a blaze, and in one week he found himself 
a successful candidate for a captaincy of cavalry. 
The " major" came afterwards "by brevet," and 
Vinton had settled down into contentedly follow- 
ing the old life, though in a less exciting time 
and exalted capacity. He greeted me in a frank, 
warm-hearted way; and we were in the midst 
of a comparison of notes as to old college names, 
when the judge interrupted us with, — 

" Vinton, Mr. Brandon brings important news, 
which I think you ought to know at once." So 
once again the story of our little adventure was 
told. 

The major listened attentively and never inter- 
posed a word; but his brow darkened and his 
face set when I came to Amory's wound and 
Hank Smith's parting threat. The instant I 
finished he turned to a servant, saying, — 

" Be good enough to tell my orderly to bring 
the horses round at once." 

In vain the judge begged him to stay and have 
supper, or at least some little refreshment. The 
major said, very quietly, that he must be ofi" to 



26 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

camp at once ; asked me one or two more ques- 
tions in a business-like way; and the moment 
tlie horses came, bade us good- night, swung into 
saddle, and followed by his orderly, disappeared 
at a rapid trot. The judge and I stood listening 
on the portico until the hoof-beats died away, 
and then returned to the blaze of the great wood- 
fire in the sitting-room. The young ladies came 
fluttering down-stairs. Supper was announced. 
Miss Pauline looked inquiringly around as we 
walked into the next room, where a bounteous 
table was spread. 

" Where is Major Vinton, father?" 

" Gone back to camp, dear. He asked me to 
present his excuses to you, but he was obliged 
to leave as soon as he heard of this aifair." 

I fancied that a shade of disappointment settled 
on Miss Summers's face, but she merely an- 
swered, " Indeed, I'm very sorry," and busied 
herself with the tea and coffee. 

Miss Kit looked immensely relieved, and im- 
mediately became radiant; — chattered like a 
little magpie, — in fact, was as charming and be- 
witching as possible; but it was already late; 
good-nights were soon exchanged; and, tired 
out, the household went to sleep. 

Next morning when we assembled in the 
breakfast-room, our little heroine looked fresher, 
prettier, and tinier than the day before. This 
time her hair was " fixed," and that was the 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 37 

only point that in my eyes was no improvement. 
All day long the judge and I roamed about the 
premises or pored over the cases he had on 
hand. All day long the young ladies laughed, 
chatted, flitted about from one room to another, 
played and sang. No news came from the camp. 
Late in the afternoon, when we were all stand- 
ing on the portico, a solitary trooper came can- 
tering up the road along which the major had 
disappeared the night before. "Without knowing 
why, I found my eyes turning upon Miss Sum- 
mers. She was listening abstractedly to Miss 
Kit's account of a visit to the Mammoth Cave, 
but her eyes were fixed upon the horseman as he 
rapidly neared the gate, — neared it, and, never 
drawing rein or checking speed, rode stolidly 
past on the road to Sandbrook depot. The wist- 
ful, almost eager light faded from her soft brown 
eyes; the full lip quivered one little bit; but 
quickly rallying, she plunged into a blithe wordy 
skirmish with her cousin about some alleged 
flirtation of the summer previous. 

Evening came, and with it Harrod Summers 
and Mr. Pe}i;on ; both making much over Miss 
Kit; both bemoaning the accident which had 
prevented their meeting; and both apparently 
pleased to know that " Mr. Brandon was so kind 
and attentive." I had known Harrod slightly 
before, as he was away much of the time of my 
previous visit; but I knew him to be his father's 



38 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

son, a man to be honored and respected. Of 
Pej^ton, the less said the better. He was a rash, 
foolhardy, and, I feared, criminally reckless boy, 
a violent " reb" and unsparing hater of every 
Yankee. I had heard grave stories concerning 
his connection vrith some of the acts of violence 
committed upon the Union-loving people in the 
vicinity, and had noticed the troubled look on 
the judge's face every time his name was men- 
tioned. I knew that he had been arrested, and 
that there was strong presumptive evidence as to 
his guilt; but he had been immediately bailed 
out and released. After this occurrence, the 
judge had managed to persuade him to take a 
trip to Havana and New Orleans ; but the mo- 
ment he heard of Miss Kitty's projected visit he 
came hurrying back. They were second cousins, 
and had met abroad. Rumor had it that Peyton 
had offered himself; that Miss Kit had a girlish 
fancy for him ; that his suit promised favorably 
until Aunt Mary became suddenly aware of this 
nice little family arrangement, and, being a 
woman of the world, and possessed of a keen 
sense of what constituted the eligible and ineli- 
gible in a young man, SM^ooped remorselessly 
down upon the blissful pair; hustled Master Ned 
into immediate exile ; and, gathering her one 
chicken under the shadow of her protecting 
wing, bore her in triumph away to a realm un- 
infested with dangerous young men. Miss Kit 



KITTY'S COSqUEST. 39 

18 said to have shed bitter tears one week; sulked 
the next ; pouted another ; to have made a vigor- 
ous and romantic attempt at pining in all three ; 
but the effort was too much for her ; and, being 
wisely left to herself, it was not long before Pey- 
ton and his escapades were to her matters of 
serene indifiJerence. 

Not so with him, however. To do him justice, 
Peyton was probably very much in love ; and at 
all events had a very correct idea of the unlimited 
benefits to be obtained through the medium of 
Miss Kit's solid bank account. He was no fool, 
if he was a reprobate ; and was as handsome 
and naughty a wolf as could be found infesting 
Southern sheepfolds; and here he was, primed 
and ready to renew the attack. The judge didn't 
like it ; Miss Summers didn't ; nor Harrod ; nor 
I; but it only took a few hours to convince us 
all that our beauty had just enough feminine 
mischief in her to enjoy the prospect of another 
flirtation with her old flame ; and so to all but 
Peyton and to her, the evening passed gloomily 
enough. The judge retired to his library; Miss 
Summers played soft, sad music at the piano ; 
and Harrod and I smoked cigar after cigar upon 
the porch. 

Ten o'clock came and still the pair were cooing 
away in the corner ; Kitty's low, sweet, bubbling 
laugh floating out through the open casement to 
where we sat. Miss Summers closed her piano 



40 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

abruptly ; came out to our nook on the portico ; 
and, declining the oiFer of a chair, stood leaning 
her hand upon her brother's shoulder. 

Harrod looked fondly up at her for a moment 
or two as she gazed out towards the gate ; then a 
teasing a mile played about his mouth as he asked, — 

" Anybody been here to-day, Paulie ?" 

" No-o-o-o ! That is, nobody to speak of." 

" No major, then ?" 

Pauline looks squarely down into her brother's 
eyes as she answers, "No major, if you refer to 
Major Vinton." A little heightened color, per- 
haps, but that's all. She is as brave as Harrod 
and not easy to tease. 

Harrod turns to me : " Do you think he has 
gone after those men with his troop, Mr. Bran- 
don ?" 

" I don't know, colonel ; he said nothing about 
it, but rode off immediately. I shouldn't wonder, 
though ; for the judge tells me he is over here 
almost every day." 

"Ye-e-es ?" (inquiringly.) " How is that, 
Paulie?" 

Paulie has no reasons to allege ; probably he 
wouldn't come if he didn't want to. 

" True enough," Harrod suggests; "and still 
less unless he knew he was welcome. He ia 
awfully proud, isn't he, Paulie ?" 

"Indeed, Harrod, I don't know; but he is 
welcome, and any man who has rendered us the 



KITTF'S CONQUEST. 41 

service he has in protecting our father against 
the fury of that mob on court-day, ought to be 
welcome among us !" — Color rising and a per- 
ceptible tremor of the hand on Harrod's shoulder. 
He takes it gently and leans his cheek lovingly 
upon it as he looks up at the flushing face, whose 
dark eyes still gaze unflinchingly into his own. 

"You are right enough, dear, and you know I 
agree with you. He is a noble fellow, Brandon, 
and I hope you'll meet and know him better. 
Father's decision against two or three Ku-Klux 
raised a terrible row here ; and as he attempted 
to leave the court-house with one or two friends 
the mob hooted him ; and even his long residence 
among these people would not have saved him. 
They call him traitor and Yankee now. "Well, 
father tried to speak to them, but they wouldn't 
listen. A few more friends gathered round him ; 
a blow was struck ; and then the mob charged. 
Shooting ensued, of course, and two of their own 
men were badly wounded, while father and his 
party of six barred themselves in the court-house. 
Old Jake Biggs dashed out to camp, luckily 
meeting Major Vinton on the way, and in five 
minutes from the time the first shot was fired, 
and before those howling devils could break down 
the door, Vinton darted at a gallop into their 
midst, — not a soul with him but his orderly, — 
rode up to the door as though he were built of 
cast iron, and then turned squarely and con- 
4* 



42 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

fronted the whole mob. There's only one thing 
on earth these people are afraid of, Brandon : 
they don't care a fig for law, sheriffs, or marshals, 
but they would rather see the devil than the 
Federal uniform. And for ten minutes Vinton 
and his one man kept that mob at bay ; and then 
young Amory with half the troop came tearing 
into town, and if the major hadn't checked them, 
would have gone through that crowd in ten 
seconds. 

" The mob skulked oft'; but they hate father 
and the cavalry most bitterly, and would wreak 
their vengeance if they dared. I was away in 
Mobile at the time, and knew nothing about the 
affair until next day, when my sister's telegram 
came ; but the sheriff' never tires of telling how 
the major rode into that crowd; and how mad 
Mr. Amory was because Vinton stopped his 
charge." 

" No wonder you all think so much of him, 
colonel," I answered. " He comes of a noble old 
race, and whether as enemy or friend you can- 
not fail to respect him : and I'm glad to see a 
cordial feeling springing up between our sections 
in this way. I would to God it were more gen- 
eral !" 

" Ah, Brandon, it is not the soldiers, not the 
men who did the fighting, who are bitter now. 
Our enemies in the North are the men who sat 
at home wondering why your Army of the Po- 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 43 

tomac didn't move. Your enemies are those 
who never felt the shock of ITorthern arms. We 
would have had peace long ago could the soldiers 
have heen allowed to make the terms." 

And 80 we sat and talked, until the clocks 
throughout the house were chiming eleven, and 
then Miss Summers declared we must retire. 
The corner flirtation was broken up ; Peyton and 
Miss Kit exchanging a lingering and inaudible 
good-night at the stairs. Harrod and I closed 
and bolted doors and windows. Peyton stuck his 
hands in his pockets and walked nervously up and 
down the hall buried in thought until we had fin- 
ished our work; and then, on receiving Colonel 
Summers' somewhat cold intimation that it was 
time to go to bed, wished us a sulky " pleasant 
dreams," took his candle and disappeared. 

Harrod waited until he was out of hearing and 
then said to me, " They are all out of the way 
now, Brandon, and I want to see you one mo- 
ment. It is a hard thing to say of one's own 
kinsman, but Peyton can't be trusted in this 
matter. Here is a letter that was left for father 
at the post-office in town, but I have opened and 
withheld it, knowing that it would only cause 
him unnecessary trouble. I'm worried about it, 
and had hoped that Vinton would have come over 
to-day ; we're safe enough with him and his men." 

Saying this he handed me the letter. I had 
seen them before ; Ku-Klux anonymous rascali- 



<J4 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

ties, — a huge, coarse, brown envelope, directed 
in a sprawling hand to the " Honerable Judge 
Summers," and embellished in red ink with nu- 
merous death's-heads, K. K.'s, and in the upper 
left-hand corner a flaming scroll, on which ap- 
peared in bold relief the words " Blood ! Death ! 
Liberty !" The whole aftair was ludicrous enough 
in appearance, and, throwing it to one side, I 
read the inclosure. It began with the usual 
" Death to Traitors," and wound up, after one or 
two incoherent " whereases" and " therefores," 
by informing the judge that if he remained in 
that vicinity twenty-four hours longer " all the 
damned Yankees this side of hell couldn't save 
him," and intimating that the lives of the Fed- 
eral officers upon whom he relied " weren't worth 
their weight in mud." 

Harrod and I sat for some time talking over 
this elegant document, and decided that nothing 
should be said until we could see Major Yinton 
on the following day. The camp was six miles 
away, and on the outskirts of the county-seat 
where the court-house row had taken place ; and 
Sandbrook was nearly as far in the opposite di- 
rection. He anticipated no danger for that night ; 
but such had been the reckless nature of the 
Klan, that we agreed it best to be on the safe 
side and to look well to our arms ; then we parted, 
each to his own room. 



CHAPTER IV. 

It was a clear, starlit night and very mild, 
almost warm, in fact; and having spent my 
Christmas but a few days before amid the orange 
groves and magnolias of Louisiana, I had pre- 
pared myself for something more wintry on the 
borders of Tennessee ; but up to that time my 
overcoat had been insupportable. 

The combined effects of half a dozen cigars 
and the conversation just concluded with Harrod 
Summers had banished all desire for sleep. In 
fact, if I must confess it, I was nervous and ill at 
ease. The room seemed close and stifling, so i 
opened both window and door to secure the full 
benefit of the cool night-air, and then proceeded 
to make myself comfortable. First pulling off 
my boots and insinuating my feet into an easy old 
pair of slippers, I took the boots to the door and 
deposited them noiselessly in the hall, where small 
Pomp, the " general utility" man of the house- 
hold, could find and black them in the morning. 
A dim light was burning on a little table in the 
hall, and I noticed Mr. Peyton's boots at his 
door, the door next to mine, and on the same 
side of the hall. We were quartered in what 

45 



4Q KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

was known as the east wing, a one-storied addi- 
tion to the main building, containing four sleep- 
ing apartments for the use of the judge's guests; 
the floor, as is generally the case in these South- 
ern houses, being elevated some eight or nine 
feet above the ground. 

Peyton and I were the only occupants of the 
wing that night; the rooms of the rest of the 
household being in the main building. It oc- 
curred to me, therefore, that the hall lamp was 
unnecessary there ; and so I crossed over, took 
it from its table, and was returning with it to 
my own room, when I heard a long, shrill, dis- 
tant whistle. It came from the direction of the 
woods on the eastern side of the plantation, so 
far away, in fact, that save in the dead of night 
it probably would have failed to attract attention. 
Involuntarily I stopped short in my tracks, listen- 
ing; and involuntarily, too, I looked at Peyton's 
door. It was closed, but the transom above it 
was open, and all was darkness within. No 
sound had come from his room before, and I 
supposed him asleep ; and now, as if in corrob- 
oration of that supposition, he began to snore; 
rather a louder and more demonstrative snore 
than would have been natural from so sudden a 
start, I thought afterwards. Meantime, I stood 
still a minute and listened. The whistle died 
away, and there was no answer or repetition; 
the snoring continued; I moved on into my 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 47 

room ; closed and bolted the door ; put my lamp 
on the bureau ; took out my revolver and care- 
fully .examined it; then turned doven the light 
until nothing but a mere glimmer was left; 
crouched down by the open window, and looked 
out. The stillness was so intense that the tick- 
ing of my watch and the loud beating of my 
heart seemed insupportable. Leaning out from 
the casement, I could see that Peyton's window, 
too, was open, and that there was a little shed of 
some kind beneath it, whose roof reached up to 
within about five feet of the window-sill. Gar- 
den-tools were probably stored there, as I had 
noticed a few spades and a wheelbarrow during 
the day. Peyton was still snoring, though less 
loudly. 

I listened for ten minutes more, and still no 
sound came from the direction in which I had 
heard the whistle, save the distant neigh of a 
horse and the occasional barking of dogs. Yet 
my nerves were upset. That whistle must have 
been a signal of some kind, and, if so, what did 
it portend ? At last, being unable to arrive at 
any conclusion, I determined to lie down and 
think it over ; and so, taking off coat and waist- 
coat, and putting on a loose wrapper, I threw 
myself upon the bed. It must have been after 
midnight then, yet I could not sleep, and at the 
same time thinking was an effort. I found my- 
self listening intently for every sound, and hold- 



48 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

ing my breath every time the distant bark of a 
dog or the lowing of cattle was heard. 

An hour passed ; nothing further happened ; 
and I began to feel drowsy at last and to regard 
myself as the easiest man to scare in the whole 
county. Soon after, I must have fallen into a 
doze; an uneasy, fitful slumber it must have 
been, too; for the very next thing I knew I found 
myself sitting bolt upright; every nerve strained; 
and listening with beating heart to the same 
signal whistle ; only this time, though low and 
cautious, it was nearer; and, unless I was vastly 
mistaken, came from a little clump of trees just 
beyond the eastern fence. Harrod's big New- 
foundland, who always slept on the porch in 
front of the house, and seldom, if ever, barked 
or made any disturbance at night, came tearing 
around to our side, growling fiercely, and evi- 
dently excited and alarmed. 

Something was up, that was certain ; and im- 
mediately I began to wonder what ought to be 
done. The call was not repeated ; all was soon 
quiet again. " Blondo" had given one or two 
low, short barks ; scouted through the grounds 
about the house ; and returned to the southern 
front again. After one or two moments' consid- 
eration he had given another, a sort of interrog- 
atory bark, as though he expected a reply ; and 
then, with a dissatisfied snift' at hearing noth- 
ing further, slowly returned to his usual post. 



KITTY- S CONQUEST. 49 

Blondo's nerves were better than mine. I 
thought over the matter ten minutes longer in 
the most undecided manner imaginable. Harrod 
had plainly intimated that he suspected Mr. Pey- 
ton of complicity with the Ku-K!ux or I would 
liave awakened him ; as it was, I was possessed 
with the idea that he ought to know nothing of 
our suspicions, nothing of the anonymous letter 
(from us, at least), and in no manner or way be 
admitted to confidence. Rather hard on Peyton, 
to be sure ; but there was something about him I 
didn't like, something besides the mere fact that 

I saw he didn't like me, and What was 

that ! There could be no mistake ! I plainly 
saw through my open window a sudden gleam 
of light among the leaves of the oak-tree on the 
other side of the garden-walk. It was as though 
the light had been momentarily thrown upon it 
from a bull's-eye lantern and instantly with- 
drawn. More than that, the light was thrown 
upon it from this side. Thoroughly aroused 
now, I stole noiselessly from the bed ; took my 
revolver ; and, making the least possible " creak" 
in turning the key, I slowly opened my door, and 
on tiptoe and in stocking feet crept out into the 
hall. Aly plan was to go and arouse Harrod. 

Without closing my door I turned stealthily 

away ; and, as a matter of course, stumbled over 

one of my boots. There they were, right at the 

door, just where I had left them, and visible 

erf 6 



50 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

enough for all practical purposes in the dim 
light that came from my open doorway and the 
window at the end of the hall. It was clumsy 
and stupid in me. I looked towards Peyton's 
door, wondering if the noise, slight as it was, 
had awakened him. No more snoring, at all 
events. I took a step or two towards his room 
to listen, looked carefully down to see that I 
didn't stumble ov^r his boots too, and then 
stopped short. 

Peyton's boots were no longer there. 

For a moment I could not realize it; then I 
stole closer to the door, and the door that I knew 
was tightly closed w4ien I came up-stairs was 
now unlatched and partly open. The conviction 
forced itself into my mind that my next-door 
neighbor was up to some of his old devilment, 
and that that signal whistle had some connection 
with the mysterious disappearance of his boots. 
Peeping through the partly-opened door, I could 
see the bed, its coverlet undisturbed, its pillows 
smooth and untouched. That was enough to 
embolden me, and at the same time make me 
mad. All that snoring was a counterfeit for my 
benefit, was it? I opened the door and looked 
in: no signs of its late occupant; Ned Peyton 
had gone. 

Sorely puzzled what to do next, I sidled out 
again; sneaked out, I might as w^ell say, for 
that's the way I felt ; and leaving his door as I 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 51 

fouud it, returned to my own room and took 
post at the window. Curiously enough, the dis- 
covery of Peyton's absence and his probable 
connection with the mysterious signals without, 
had had a wonderful effect in restoring me to 
confidence and endowing me with a fabulous 
amount of pluck and courage. The idea of 
summoning Harrod was abandoned ; the thing 
to be done now was to find out what my ami- 
able next-door neighbor was up to ; and, if pos- 
sible, to do so without letting him know that his 
nice little game was detected. 

A clock somewhere in the hall struck three 
while I was pondering over the matter. Ten 
minutes afterwards there came a stealthy step 
on the garden-walk, and the figure of a man 
emerged from behind an old arbor near the oak- 
tree. It was Peyton, of course, although the 
light was too uncertain to admit of my recog- 
nizing him until he came nearer. 

I crouched down lower, but kept him in view. 
Cautiously and slowly Master Ned tiptoed it up 
to the little tool-house under his window; swung 
himself carefully up to the roof: crept on all- 
fours until he reached the top ; and then, making 
very little noise, clambered into his window and 
disappeared from view. A moment or two after, 
I heard him softly deposit his boots in the hall ; 
close and bolt his door; and soon after tumble 
into bed. Evidently, then, we had nothing fur- 



52 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

ther to fear for that night at least ; and in fifteen 
minutes I was sound asleep. 

At breakfast the next morning the household 
generally put in a late appearance. Peyton es- 
tablished himself at Miss Kitty's side and mo- 
nopolized her in the most lover-like manner. 
Immediately afterwards the pair sallied forth for 
a walk. Miss Summers looked very anxiously 
after them until they disappeared in the shrub- 
bery, and then turned to Harrod with an appeal- 
ing look in her eyes. 

"I don't know what to do, Harrod. I didn't 
imagine the possibility of his coming back here 
when we invited Kitty." 

" Don't worry about it, Pauline. Mr. Bran- 
don and I are going to drive over to the cavalry 
camp this morning, and this afternoon PU have 
a talk with l^ed. How soon can you get through 
your talk with father?" he suddenly asked, turn- 
ing to me. 

" Twenty minutes at most will be long enough,'* 
I answered ; so he sent off to the stable to order 
the carriage. 

The judge and I strolled slowly around the 
house, planning the course to be pursued in the 
prosecution of the men who had been arrested 
under the " enforcement act." As we sauntered 
along the garden-walk on the eastern side, I nat- 
urally glanced up at my window and Peyton's. 
A coarse brown envelope was lying right at the 



KITTY'S CONqUEST. 53 

door of the little tool-house, the very place where 
he had clambered to the roof the night before. 
*' We lawyers are curious," and, without inter- 
rupting the judge's conversation, I " obliqued" 
over to the left; picked up the envelope; dropped 
it carelessly into my pocket; and went on talk- 
ing without having attracted the judge's atten- 
tion to the movement. 

After the judge had returned to his study, and 
hefore Harrod was ready, I had an opportunity 
of investigating this precious document. It only 
needed a glance to assure me that it was just 
such another envelope as the one which inclosed 
the Ku-Klux letter to the judge that Harrod had 
shown me, and that fact was sufficient to remove 
any scruples I might have had as to reading its 
contents. The envelope bore no mark or address. 
The inclosure was as follows : 

" Captain Peyton : 

" Dear Sir, — The Yankee major, with forty 
of his men, went off in a hurry late last night, 
leaving the lieutenant and about ten men in 
camp. They're after Hank and the crowd, but 
we got notice in time, broke up the ranch, 
and scattered. Hank's wound is pretty rough ; 
he played a d — d fool trick in trying to get 
that express money, and the boys all think 
he'd been drinking again. Three of us took 
him over the Big Bear in Scantwell's boat, and 
6* 



54 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

on up to Chickasaw. He sent me back from 
there to see you and tell you to watch out for 
every chance to get word to him. He'll be at 
Eustice's, across the Tennessee, until his arm is 
well ; and then he's coming back to get square 
with the Yank who shot him. The lieutenant 
has got an infernal bad cut on the left hand, and 
can't do nothing for the next week. Look out 
for signal any night about two o'clock. Barn this. 
" Yours respectfully, 

" Blackey." 

Here was a pretty piece of villainy. I thought 
earnestly whether to show it immediately to 
Harrod and make a full exposS of Peyton's com- 
plicity with the aftair ; but, before I could decide, 
the carriage came ; and with the driver listening 
to every word that was said, it was out of the 
question. It M^as scandalous enough as it stood 
without letting the servants know of it. We 
talked a good deal about their general perform- 
ances, but in no way alluded to the latest devel- 
opments of the Klan as we drove rapidly along. 
Neither expected to find Major Vinton there at 
camp; but I had reason to know that Amory 
would be on hand, and had determined to give 
him immediate information as to the whereabouts 
of Smith that he might send out a party to secure 
him. 

Sure enough, only one or two soldiers were to 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 55 

be seen when we drove up, but a corporal took 
as to Amory's tent. He sprang up from the 
little camp-bed in which he was lounging and 
reading; gave us a cordial welcome; and, in 
reply to our questions, stated that the major had 
gone out with three days' rations and nearly all 
the men, hoping to hunt up and capture the 
gang. A United States marshal was with him, 
who felt certain that he could guide him to the 
very point on the bayou where the fight had 
taken place. He had started about three o'clock 
on the previous morning, just as soon as rations 
could be cooked, and was determined to hunt 
them to their holes. 

" I expect him back every hour, and am dis- 
gusted enough at being ordered to stay behind ; 
but he and the doctor both forbade my going, 
so here I am playing the invalid." His arm was 
still in a sling and the hand closely bound. 

We sat and chatted for some twenty minutes. 
Amory inquired after " the young ladies" very 
calmly; made no allusion to Miss Kitty's snub; 
accounted for his non-appearance the day before 
by saying that the doctor had insisted on his 
remaining quiet in his tent ; and so neither Har- 
rod nor I saw fit to make any apology for our 
troublesome little heroine. She was worrying 
all of us now, — innocently enough perhaps, but 
sorely for all that. 

Harrod turned the subject to Hank Smith ; 



56 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

and, finding that Amory had not heard of his 
threat as related by tlie man whom his friends 
had " fetched a wipe over the head," repeated it 
to him, and warned him to be on his guard. 
Mars took it coolly enough ; expressed his readi- 
ness to welcome Hank and his adherents to 
hospitable graves; and, except that his teeth 
came as solidly together as they had when allud- 
ing to the ruffian's escape two nights previous, 
displayed no symptoms of the slightest emotion 
at the prospect of losing a quart or two of " heart's- 
blood" within the month. 

Presently Harrod drove off to the village to 
make some necessary purchases, promising to 
return for me within an hour. Then I lost not 
a moment in giving Marg my information about 
Hank Smith; where he was to be found, etc., 
but without mentioning Peyton's connection 
with the affair or stating how the news came into 
my possession. He asked, of course, but I gave 
a good reason for declining to name the person 
who had volunteered the news, at the same time 
assuring him of my belief in its truth. 

Mars was all ablaze in a minute. Chickasaw 
was at least twelve miles away and to the north. 
Vinton's plan, and the marshal's, was to go south- 
west, should they find the ranch abandoned, and 
search a number of suspected points in Tisho- 
mingo and Prentiss Counties. All the gang by 
this time knew that there was a hunt going on, 



Kirrys coaquest. 57 

and, at the cry of " Yanks coming," had scat- 
tered in every direction. Smith thought himself 
safe across the Tennessee, and would probably 
have only one or two men with him. Amory was 
fairly excited this time anyhow, and in ten min- 
utes had made up his mind ; gave his orders to 
a non-commissioned officer, wrote a letter to 
Major Vinton, with instructions to deliver it 
immediately upon the return of the troop to 
camp, and before Harrod Summers' return, had 
vaulted lightly into saddle, waved me a laugh- 
ing good-by, and trotted oii" at the head of a little 
squad of five dragoons, — all the men he could 
possibly take. I watched them till they disap- 
peared from view on the road to the Tennessee 
and then sat me down to wait for Harrod. 

The corporal who had shown us to Amory's 
tent was on " sick-report" he said, with chills 
and fever. He, with three or four others, re- 
mained in charge of camp, and I amused myself 
listening to their talk about their officers and the 
Ku-Klux. An old darky on a mule came in to 
sell chickens, and after him, a seedy-looking 
fellow on a shaggy pony, — he " didn't want 
nothing in particular, unless it was to know 
when the captaiu'd be back." 

The corporal was non-committal, — didn't know. 
The seedy party shifted around in his saddle, 
and, after profuse expectoration, " reckoned that 
the lieutenant warn't much hurt nohow." 



58 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

" Why so ?" says the corporal. 

" 'Cause he's off so quick again." 

" That don't prove anything," says the dragoon. 

*' Whar's he gone to ?" says Seedy. 

"Don't know." 

" Ain't gone far, I reckon ; didn't take no ra- 
tions, did he?" 

" Don't know." 

" I kind of wondered why he took the north 
road fur, if he wanted to catch the captain, 'cause 
I knew he was out towards Guntown." 

'''■How did you know ?" 

" Well, I heard so, that's all" 

The corporal looks steadily at Seedy, and is 
apparently suspicious. Seedy turns his quid over 
with his tongue and looks all around. He's 
a had hand at extracting information, at all events. 
At la^t he makes another venture. 

*' Wish I knew how far up the north road the 
lieutr^nant went. I've got some business up to- 
wards the Tennessee. I belong to a missionary 
society hereabouts, and yet I don't like to take 
that long ride alone." 

I hear the corporal mutter a rather unflatter- 
ing comment on that statement; and it occurs 
to me that there is more of the odor of bad 
whiskey than sanctity about the member of 
the missionary society. He reminds me of 
Mr. Stiggins ; and Mr. Stiggins makes one more 
attempt. 



KITTYS CONQUEST. 59 

" "WTiar am I most like to catch the boys by 
dinner-time ?" 

" Don't know." 

The member looks incredulous and indignant; 
and after a long survey of every object in range 
about the camp, turns his dejected steed slowly 
around and shambles oiF, with the parting shot, — 

" Reckon you never did know nothin', did 
you ?" To which the corporal responds, — 

"No; and if I did, I wouldn't tell you, 
Johnny." 

Stiggins strikes a canter on reaching the main 
road, and disappears on the trail of the cavalry. 
Presently Harrod returns, greatly surprised at 
Amory's sudden expedition, and curious as to 
the source from which he derives his information. 
I hard]}' know what to say, but finally get out of 
it by the explanation that it was all " confiden- 
tial," and that I could say nothing on the subject 
until his return. 

On the drive home we come suddenly upon the 
troop itself, looking tired and dusty, but return- 
ing from the two days' trip to Tishomingo par- 
tially successful, and with six rough-looking 
Bpecimehs of " corn-crackers" footing it along 
between the horsemen. They found no trace of 
Smith, the marshal tells us, as the men go filing 
by ; but, after all, their luck has been good, and 
six of the w^orst characters are now securely 
under guard 



(jO KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

The major, he tells us, had stopped at Judge 
Summers's, and expected to find us there ; so we 
whip up and hurry on. 

A brisk drive brings us to the plantation in a 
very few minutes. As we rattle up to the door- 
way, Harrod catches sight of Mr. Peyton loung- 
ing on the portico by the open w^indow of the 
parlor, for once in his life paying little or no at- 
tention to Miss Kitty, who is seated on the old 
wicker-work sofa, some distance from him, pout- 
ing and puzzled. 

Harrod warns me to say not a word of Lieu- 
tenant Amory's expedition until Peyton is out of 
the way. Old Jake detains him a moment about 
" dis yer Hicks's mule done broke into the 
gyarden las' night," and I move on into the house. 

In the parlor are the judge. Major Yinton, and 
Pauline ; the first listening, the second narrating, 
the third as complete a contrast to Miss Kit as 
can be imagined. Yinton rises and greets me. 
He looks dusty, tanned, and travel-stained, but 
more soldierly than ever in his dark-blue jacket 
and heavy boots. After Harrod's entrance he 
resumes his story, — he was telling of the capture 
of the Ku-Klux, — talking frankly and as though 
none but friends were near. Harrod shifts un- 
easily in his chair and glances nervously towards 
the window. Peyton is invisible, but, beyond 
doubt, there, and a listener. 

It is vain to attempt to warn the major; by 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 61 

this time Peyton knows the whole story, knows 
who had aided the troops in their search, knows 
just how the evidence was procured which led to 
the arrest of the six victims, and doubtless his 
black-list is swelled by the addition of several 
names destined to become the recipients of Ku- 
Klux attentions. 

Lunch is announced, and we all sit down at 
the table, Peyton and Kit coming in from the 
porch and endeavoring to ignore Major Vinton, 
a circumstance which apparently renders him no 
uneasiness whatever. He talks constantly with 
Pauline, and never gives a glance at the pair. 
Harrod and I are nervous. I watch Peyton 
closely, and it requires no penetration to see that 
not a word of Vinton's is lost on him. 

Suddenly there comes the clatter of hoofs on 
the ground without ; the clank of a cavalry sabre, 
and, a moment after, the ring of spurred heels 
along the hall. A servant announces the major's 
orderly; and, begging the major not to rise, the 
judge directs that the trooper be shown in. 

Just as I thought, it is Amory's letter. 

" Sergeant Malone said that it was to be given 
the major directly he returned. Them was the 
loot'nant's orders, and he told me to ride right 
over with it, sir," says the orderly. And, apolo- 
gizing to Miss Summers, the major opens it and 
begins to read. 

I glance at Harrod; his eyes are fixed on 

6 



62 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

Peyton ; Peyton's furtively watching Vinton. 
Another minute and Vinton has risen to his 
feet ; an eager, flashing light in his eyes, but his 
voice steady and calm as ever, as he says, — 

" Gallop back. Tell Sergeant Malone to send 
me a dozen men, armed and mounted at once, 
and you bring my other horse." Away goes the 
orderly, and then in reply to the wistful look of 
inquiry in Pauline's eyes, the major says, — 

" I must be off" again. Amory has obtained 
information as to the w^hereabouts of Smith and 
some of his gang, and has started after them, 
but with only five men, too few to cope with such 
desperadoes. He has four hours the start of me 
now, and 'twill be nearly five before my men can 
get here; but I must reach him before he attempts 
to recross the Tennessee." 

I cannot be mistaken in Peyton's start of 
astonishment. Instantly his face turns pale ; 
the secret is out, his complicity perhaps detected. 
Lunch is forgotten, and we all rise and leave the 
table. Harrod manages to whisper a caution to 
the major to say nothing more while Peyton is 
near, whereat Vinton looks vacant and aghast. 
Five minutes more and Peyton and Kitty are 
missed, — gone out for a walk, the servant says. 
Then Harrod explains, and Vinton looks as 
though biting his own tongue ofi^" close to the 
roots would be the most congenial and exhil- 
arating recreation that could be suggested. He 



KITTY'S COXqUEST. g3 

is annoyed beyond expression, but it is too late 
now. Peyton is off; no one knows which way, 
and in half an hour all the real or supposable 
Ku-Klux in the county will know of the danger 
that threatens them ; know, too, how small a 
force young Amory has taken with him in his 
hurried raid to the Tennessee ; and, ten to one, 
if he succeed in capturing Smith, he cannot 
attempt to recross the river without having to 
light his way through. 

All this is canvassed in the anxious council 
that ensues. No time is to be lost; he must be 
reinforced at once. Harrod orders out his two 
horses ; old Jake is hastily summoned and told 
to bring up his charger, " Bob" ; and while the 
horses are being saddled, Vinton decides on his 
plan. He and Harrod are to gallop on after 
Amory; old Jake to ride down to meet the 
troopers, with orders to make all speed possible 
to the Tennessee. I am possessed with an im- 
mediate thirst for human gore, and want to go 
with the major; but there is no other horse, and 
I couldn't ride without shaking myself to pieces 
and capsizing every hundred yards or so if there 
were. To me, therefore, is assigned the cheerful 
duty of remaining at the plantation and watching 
Peyton's movements should he return. 

Just before the horses are brought around, 
Kitty comes back, alone. She looks white and 
scared, and hurries up the steps as though anx- 



64 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

ious to avoid us, but Harrod intercepts and leads 
her to one side. She grows paler as he questions 
and talks to her ; and suddenly hursts into tears, 
and rushes past him into the house. 

" He's gone, by heaven !" says Harrod, as he 
rejoins us. " Kitty says he took the overseer's 
horse and galloped off towards the north." 

" Here, Jake," says Vinton, " waste no time 
now ; ride as though the devil chased you. Tell 
Sergeant Malone to follow as fast as he can. 
Don't spare the horses !" 

Jake makes a spring; lights on his stomach 
on old " Bob's" withers ; swings himself round ; 
and barely waiting to get his seat, makes vigor- 
ous play with both heels on his pet's astonished 
ribs, and with a "Yoop, da!" our Ethiopian 
aide-de-camp clatters away. Then comes a hur- 
ried and anxious leave-taking with Pauline and 
the judge, and in another minute our two sol- 
diers trot out to the road. We watch the gallant 
forms till the riders disappear, and then turn 
silently away. Pauline's eyes are dim with tears, 
and she seeks her own room. 

That was a wretched afternoon and evening. 
Kitty never appeared. Pauline came down to 
tea and tried to entertain me during the long 
hours that dragged slowly away ; but we started 
at every sound, and when midnight came she re- 
tired altogether. We had hoped for news, but 
none reached us. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 65 

The judge dozed fitfully in his easy-chair, but 
I was too much excited to feel the least drowsi- 
ness; so, cigar in mouth, I strolled out to the 
gate and gazed longingly up the dim, shadowy 
vista through the woods where lay the road to 
the Tennessee along which our first news, good 
or bad, must come. 

Two o'clock came first, and I was then read- 
ing, in a distracted style, in the library. The 
clocks had barely ceased striking when my eager 
ears caught the sound of hoof-beats rapidly 
nearing us. Down went the book; and in a 
minute I was at the gate, just in time to meet 
the horseman, a corporal of Vinton's troop. 

" We've got the Ku-Klux all right, sir," he 
says, as he reins in his jaded steed, " but we 
had to fight half the count)\ The lieutenant's 
wounded, and so is Monahan, one of the men, 
sir. They are bringing them here, and I'm to 
ride right on for the doctor." 

Off" he goes before I can ask more. Pauline 
meets me as I return to the hall. She is pale as 
death and her whole frame shakes as she says, 
" Tell me everything, Mr. Brandon." 

" Harrod and Vinton are safe ; Amory and 
one of his men are hurt, and they are bringing 
them here," I answer. 

She saw by my face that there had been a 
fight. What her woman's heart craved, was to 
know that those she loved were safe, unhurt, 

e 6* 



(36 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

and returning to her. Then the next minute 
she is all sympathy, all tenderness, even, for our 
boy sabreur; and she occupies herself with prep- 
arations for his reception and nursing. 

"While we are talking, who should come noise- 
lessly down the stairs but Kitty, dressed in a 
loose blue wrapper ; her lovely hair falling down 
her back and thrown from her temples and fore- 
head, her eyes red with weeping. Pauline's 
heart is full, and the sight of this sorrowing 
little object is too much for her; she opens her 
arms and takes her to her heart, and Kitty's sobs 
break out afresh. 

" I knoio that something has happened," she 
cries; "cfo tell me. You all think I care for Ned 
Peyton, but I don't — I donH ! And he was fright- 
ful to-day, and — and — if he did what he said he 
was going to do I'll never speak to him again." 

Pauline tries to comfort and soothe her, but I 
want to know what Peyton's threat was; and 
have the unblushing hard-heartedness to ask. 

" He declared that he would raise forty men 
and kill every man Lieutenant Amory had with 
him. He frightened me so that I did not know 
what to do. Oh, Paulie, what has happened ?" 

"We don't know yet, Kitty. Harrod is bring- 
ing Mr. Amory here. He was wounded, and 
there has been a fight, but we hope it was not 
serious." . 

Poor little Kit starts back in horror, and then 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 67 

sobs harder than ever. It is impossible to com- 
fort the child. She is possessed with the idea 
that in some way or other she has been instru- 
mental in bringing the affair about. She is ter- 
rified at learning the part Peyton has played, 
and bitterly reproaches herself for the uneasiness 
her flirtation had caused us all. She is the most 
abject little penitent I ever saw, and her distress 
is something overpowering to a susceptible old 
bachelor. In the course of an hour she is per- 
suaded to return to her room, but not without 
the interchange of multitudinous embraces and 
kisses, — Pauline, of course, being the party of 
the second part. 

It is nearly daybreak when Harrod arrives, 
convoying a rusty old carriage which he has ob- 
tained somewhere along the Tennessee; and from 
this our young soldier is tenderly lifted by two 
of his troop and carried to the room opposite 
mine in the wing. Poor fellow ! it is hard to 
recognize in the pallid, blood-stained, senseless 
form the gallant young officer of the night on 
the train. 

While the doctor was examining his hurts and 
dressing the wounds, Harrod gave me a hurried 
account of what had happened. Amory had 
reached the Tennessee about two in the after- 
noon, and, leaving his horses on the south bank 
in charge of one man, crossed quickly and com- 
pletely took " Eustice's" with its precious garri- 



68 KITTF'S CONQUEST. 

son of desperadoes by surprise. Luckily, Smith 
had but two of his ^^ang with him. They hardly 
had time to think of resistance. Hank was found 
stretched out in bed and swearing cheerfully 
over the unexpected turn of aifairs, but had 
sense enouarh to acknowlede^e that his Yankee 
adversary " had the drop on him," and surren- 
dered at discretion. Securing him and his two 
chums, but leaving the other inmates of " Eus- 
tice's" unmolested, Amory in less than an hour 
and a half landed his party once more on the 
south bank, and, after procuring food for his 
men and horses and resting another hour, started 
on the back-track about five in the evening; 
moving slowly, as his horses were jaded and his 
three prisoners had to foot it. 

Their road was bordered by thick woods, and 
ran through an almost uninhabited tract. Hank 
was suffering apparently a great deal of pain 
from the fever of his wound, and, after sullenly 
plodding along about a mile, began showing 
signs of great distress. He was offered a horse, 
but declared that riding would hurt him just as 
much, and finally stopped short, swearing that 
"Ef you un's expects to git me to yer d — d camp 
this yer night you've got to do a heap of toting." 
Finding that he was really weak and sick, Amory 
was too soft-hearted to insist; and so a brief halt 
was ordered while one of the men went in search 
of a farm-wagon. Just at night-fall a horseman 



KITTY'S COXqUEST. (\Q 

came cantering rapidly up the road, at sight of 
whom the prisoners exchanged quick, eager 
glances of intelligence, and attempted to spring 
to their feet and attract his attention. 'No sooner, 
however, had he espied the partv than he stopped 
3hort; reined his horse about; and, digging spur 
into him, disappeared at a gallop into the shad- 
ows of the forest. 

The whole thing was so sudden that no pur- 
suit was made. Ten minutes after, there came 
the distant sound of a shrill, prolonged whistle, 
and Amor}^ thoroughly aroused, ordered a mount 
and immediate start. 

Strange to say, Hank moved on with great 
alacrity. No man ever rose from so brief a rest 
80 thoroughly invigorated. Once or twice more 
the same whistle was heard, but nothing could 
be seen, as darkness had set in. 

Silently and anxiously the little party moved 
on, Amory riding several yards in advance, peer- 
ing cautiously about and listening eagerly to 
every sound. All of a sudden from thick dark- 
ness came blinding flashes, — the ringing reports 
of musketry and pistols, and the regular old-time 
rebel yell. 

Amory reeled. His horse reared wildly, and 
then, with a snort of terror, plunged down the 
road ; his rider dragging over his side. 

Of the next five minutes, none of the men could 
give a collected account. The sergeant had done 



70 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

nis duty well, however; had kept his men to- 
gether; and, what with superior discipline and 
the rapid fire from their magazine carbines, his 
little party proved too plucky for their assailants. 
There was a sound of scrambling and scattering 
among the shrubbery and of clambering over the 
rail-fence by the roadside. The fire suddenly 
ceased and the troopers were masters of the situ- 
ation. During the excitement, one of the pris- 
oners had managed to crawl off; while Hank and 
the other specimen adopted the tactics of throwing 
themselves fiat on their faces. The soldiers were 
eager to pursue and capture some of the band ; 
but the sergeant was wary and cautious; kept 
them on the defensive ; secured his two remain- 
ing prisoners; and was just about ordering a 
search for their lieutenant, when the well-known 
and welcome voice of the major was heard down 
the road, and in a moment he and Harrod dashed 
up to the spot. Then came eager inquiries and 
the search for Amory ; and presently a cry from 
one of the men announced that he was found. 
Hurrying to the spot, they discovered him, bleed- 
ing, bruised, and senseless, by the roadside; one 
deep gash was cut on his forehead, from which 
the blood was oozing rapidly ; a bullet-hole and 
a little red streak in the shoulder of his jacket 
told where one at least of the ambuscading vil- 
lains had made his mark; while the moan of 
pain that followed when they strove tenderly to 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 71 

raise him from the ground proved that our boy 
was suffering from still other injuries; but for 
all that, thank God ! alive, perhaps safe. 

It was long before the men could find a farm- 
house ; longer still before they came in with the 
lumbering old rattletrap of a carriage which their 
major had directed them to secure at any cost; 
and all this time poor Amory lay with his head 
on Vinton's lap, utterly unconscious of the lat- 
ter's grief, of his almost womanly tenderness; 
but at last they were able to lift him into the 
improvised ambulance ; and while the troopers, 
now reinforced by the small party which had 
followed Vinton, took charge of the prisoners, 
with orders to turn them over to the marshal at 
Sandbrook, the others drove carefully and slowly 
homewards, and so once more Mars was in our 
midst, — now our pet and hero. 

All night long we watched him. All next day 
he tossed in feverish delirium ; and when night 
came, Vinton and Pauline were bending over 
him striving to soothe and calm the boy in his 
restless pain. He spoke but little. Muttered 
words, half-broken sentences, incoherent all of 
them, were the only things we could win from 
him. He knew none of us ; though he appeared 
to recognize Vinton's voice better than any. At 
last, late in the evening, when the doctor had 
forced an anodyne between his set teeth, Amo- 
ry 's muscles relaxed, he threw his unwounded 



72 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

arm wearily over his face and murmured, " I 
give up, — I'm whipped." 

Vinton could hardly help smiling. " He 
thinks himself in one of his old cadet fights," 
said he. " Those fellows at West Point settle 
all difficulties with their fists, and this youngster 
was eternally in some row or other; he'd fight 
the biggest man in the corps on the slightest 
provocation." 

We were all wearied with watching, and it 
was a glad sight when our pugilistic patient 
dropped oft' into a deep sleep. Vinton had to 
go back to camp to look after his men. Harrod 
was tired out and had sought his room. I had 
agreed to sit by Amory's bedside until midnight, 
as they had expelled me from the sick-room and 
made me sleep all morning " on account of age." 
Pauline was just giving a smoothing touch to 
the pillows when the door softly opened and 
who should come in but Kitty. 

Yes, Kitty, our rampant little rebel Kit, who 
but a few days before had seen fit to snub our 
wounded boy simply because he was a " Yank" 
and wore the uniform which Uncle Sam has 
condemned his men-at-arms to suffer in. But 
how changed was Kitty now ! Once or twice 
during the day she had stolen to the door or 
waylaid Pauline in the halls, always with a 
white, tear-stained, anxious face and a wistful 
inquiry as to how Mr. Amory was doing ; then 



KITTYS CONQUEST. 73 

..he would creep lonely and homesick back tc 
her room ; probably have a good long cry ; and 
then down-stairs again for still another and later 
bulletin. 

She had smoothed back her soft golden hair 
aow; bathed away all but a few traces of the 
tears that had flown so copiously during the last 
thirty-six hours ; and in her simple yet daintily- 
fitting dress, looked more womanly, more gentle 
and attractive, than I had ever seen her. 

Walking quietly up to us, she put her little 
white hand on Pauline's shoulder, saying, — 

" You go now, Paulie ; it's my turn. You've 
all been working here and must be tired and 
sleepy. I'm going to play nurse now." And 
for a minute the corners of the pretty mouth 
twitch, and the soft gray eyes fill, as though our 
little heroine were again on the verge of a re- 
lapse into lamentation. Pauline's arm is round 
her in an instant, and she draws her close to her 
bosom as she says, — 

"It is just like you, darling; I knew you would 
want to come." And then follows the invariable 
exchange of caresses so indispensable among 
tender-hearted young ladies on such occasions. 
Not that I disapprove of it. Oh, no ! Only one 
can hardly expect to be " counted out" from all 
participation in such ceremonies and yet stand 
by and look on with unmoved and unenvying 
complacency. 



74 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

Ten minutes more and Pauline has gone, with 
a good-night to both. The judge comes in and 
bends with almost fatherly interest over the 
sleeping boj ; and as Kitty seats herself quietly 
by the bedside, goes round and kisses her, say- 
ing, " You are more like your dear mother to- 
night than I ever saw you." 

Kit looks up in his face without a word, but 
in affection that is eloquent in itself. Then her 
little hand busies itself about the bandage on 
Amory's forehead, and my occupation is gone. 
Leaving her to attend to that, the judge and 1 
seat ourselves at the open fireplace, waking and 
dozing alternately. 

The doctor pronounced him better when he 
came next morning to dress the wounds. Mars 
spent most of the time in sleeping. Never did 
patient meet with care and attention more ten- 
der, more constant. Either Pauline or Kit was 
at his bedside. The old judge would come in 
with every hour or so. Vinton galloped over 
from camp and spent the afternoon ; and as for 
myself, I was becoming vastly interested in help- 
ing Kitty, when, as bad luck would have it, old 
Jake brought me what he termed a " tallygraff" 
when he came back from Sandbrook late at 
evening with the mail; and the tallygraff sent 
me hurrying back to Holly Springs by first train 
the following day. 

It was with no satisfaction whatever that I 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 75 

bade tbem all adieu ; though my heart lightened 
up wheu the doctor reported our " sub" improv- 
ing. "We all thought he recognized Vinton when 
the latter arrived in the morning to drive over 
with me. 

We all thought, too, that a week at the utmost 
would bring me back with them in time to resume 
my functions as assistant nurse ; but it was fully 
a month before my business could be completed, 
and by that time no further occasion existed for 
ray services. 

" We've had quite a little series of adventures, 
major," said I, as we whirled along towards the 
station, "and for one, I shouldn't be surprised 
if a spice of romance were to be thrown in ; a 
love-affair, in fact. What do you think ?" 

Vinton knocked the ashes off his cigar on the 
dash-board; replaced his cigar between his teeth 
with great deliberation ; smiled very quietly, not 
to say suggestively, to himself; gave a tug or two 
at his moustache, and then said, — 

" Amory and Miss Kit you mean. Well, — I 
can't say. To tell the truth, I've been thinking 
for some time past that he has left his heart up 
North somewhere, — some old West Point affair, 
you know; writes long letters every now and 
then, and won't let me see the address ; drops 
them in the postal-car himself, instead of sending 
them by the company mail ; gets a dainty missive 
now and then, lady's handwriting, pretty mono- 



/6 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

gram; and bluslies, too, when I ' devil' him about 
Syracuse ; they are postmarked from there. May 
not amount to much, of course. These young- 
sters get into that sentimental sort of vein at the 
Academy and seem to think it the correct thing 
to be spoony over somebody all the time." 

That struck me as being a long speech for 
Vinton, a man of few words ordinarily. It oc- 
curred to me, too, that he was suspicious of hi? 
own affair's being the one to which I referred, 
and wanted to head me off. Oh, the perversity 
of human nature ! That made me press the point 
and return to the subject. (Pauline afterwards 
said it was the meanest thing I ever did in my 
life. How little she knew me !) 

"Don't dash my expectations in that way, 
Vinton. K Amory and Miss Kit don't carry out 
my plan and fall in love, I'll have to fall back 
upon you and Miss Pauline, you know ; and just 
imagine how the judge and Harrod would feel at 
having to give her up. Besides, old fellow, you 
and I are cut out for confirmed old bachelors. 
Can't expect a young and attractive girl like her, 
who could marry anybody, to settle down to an 
unsettled and nomadic existence in the army; 
that's altogether too much for so little, don't you 
see?" 

" Job's comforters" would have proven a dead 
failure in comparison with that effort. It was 
mean, but there was something exhilarating 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. , 77 

about it for all that. What man, raised in a 
large family of sisters, doesn't grow up as I was 
raised, — a tease ? 

Vinton is too old a campaigner, however, and 
sees my game ; grins expressively, and behaves 
with commendable nonchalance. 

" I'll put the matter in train when I get back, 
Brandon, and try and arrange it between the 
young people to your satisfaction, so that you 
won't have to fall back on anything so utterly 
problematical as the other suggestion." That 
was all he had to say on the subject. 

We reached Sandbrook ; the train came ; and 
in a moment more I was standing on the rear 
platform watching the tall, stalwart, soldierly 
form that waved me good-by, growing dim and 
dimmer in the distance. 

That night found me at Holly Springs and in 
consultation with the United States marshal and 
the commanding officer of the little garrison of 
infantrymen. To the care of the last named, our 
captured Ku-Klux had been turned over, together 
with a few more of their fraternity, recent ac- 
quisitions, one of whom, the marshal informed 
me, was badly wounded and in hospital. He 
had been arrested the day after the ambuscade 
at a farm-house within five miles of the spot, and 
duly forwarded to join his Han at their new and 
much anathematized rendezvous. 

On my expressing a desire to see him, the 



78 . KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

captain obligingly conducted me into the neat 
little hospital-tent, only a few steps from his own ; 
and there, stretched out at full length, with a 
bandaged shoulder and a woe-begone counte- 
nance, was my missionary friend — Stiggins. 

It was easy enough to conjecture how he came 
by his wound, though his own statement of the 
occurrence had surrounded him with a halo of 
martyrdom up to the time of my arrival. Stig- 
gins had stoutly maintained that the Ku-Klux 
had shot him; that he was a law-abiding man, 
and that he hadn't seen a blue-coated soldier 
since the war. But when Stiggins caught sight 
of me he looked very much as though he had 
been lying, and in all human probability he had. 

I said nothing to the officers on the subject 
until afterwards ; when, in examining the articles 
which were in his possession at the time of his 
arrest, I came across a letter written in a hand I 
knew well enough, appointing a meeting with 
one J. Bostwick, and signed " Peyton." It was 
dated the night Harrod and Master ITed arrived 
at the plantation. 

Stiggins swore he didn't know Peyton ; never 
had seen him ; " that note didn't belong to him 
nohow," and lied with a volubility and earnest- 
ness that would have done credit to a Jew in a 
clothing-store. But no information as to Pey- 
ton's whereabouts could be extracted from him 
or his unwounded confederates ; nor could they 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 79 

be induced to give any clue which might lead to 
his implication. Whatever they were otherwise, 
they were game to the backbone ; and stood by 
one another throughout their captivity and the 
trial which followed. 

Hank Smith we found domiciled in the prison 
room where the gang were cooped up. He car- 
ried his arm in a sling, and a bed had been pro- 
vided for his especial accommodation. He was 
surly and defiant, but accepted a piece of plug 
tobacco with much avidity, and was kind enough 
to say that " 'Twould be a derned sight better if 
you handed over a bottle of whiskey with it," 
which sentiment was unanimously concurred in 
by the assembled delegates, but vetoed by the 
captain. 

Two weeks passed away, and still was I de- 
tained. Then came a summons to Jackson, where 
the State Legislature was in session. I had writ- 
ten to the judge and to Vinton. The former had 
been called South on business, but while at 
Jackson the latter's reply reached me, — a long, 
and for him, gossipy letter. 

Amory was rapidly recovering, and the mo- 
ment he was well enough to be moved — in fact, 
as soon as he had his ideas about him — had in- 
sisted on being carried to camp. It was in vaiu 
that Harrod, Pauline, and Yinton had protested ; 
go he would. No persuasions could induce him 
to remain where he was a burden and a care to 



80 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

them. Kitty had taken no part in the discussion, 
and had been hut little in the sick-room after he 
had recognized her; but the poor child was pos- 
sessed with the idea that he was determined to 
go simply on her account, and was very miserable 
in consequence. As a last resort, Pauline, " for 
whom he has a warm affection," had communi- 
cated this fact to her intractable patient, and his 
pale face had flushed up for an instant and he 
was at a loss what to say, but finally protested 
that it had nothing to do with his determination. 
That evening he asked to see her, and, in an em- 
barrassed but earnest way, thanked her for nurs- 
ing him so kindly and carefully. " I'll never 
forget how good you — you all were to me. Miss 
Carrington." And from that time until the am- 
bulance came for him, two days after, whenever 
she chanced to come to the room he was very 
gentle, and in his whole manner seemed anxious 
to show her that not an atom of resentment or 
annoyance remained. " Somehow or other there's 
something wrong," Vinton wrote. " I can't get 
her to look or talk like her old self; she won't 
cheer up, and whenever she is in the room both 
of them are nervous and embarrassed, and though 
Miss Summers and I have striven to get them 
into conversation when the doctor would let him 
talk, it's of no use." Oh, the subtlety of femi- 
nine influence ! Fancy Vinton in the role of 
match-maker ! And so Amory was back again 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 81 

among his men, rapidly improving, but still, as 
Vinton said, " something was wrong." 

Nothing had been heard from or of Peyton 
except an order for his trunk and personal efi'ects, 
brought to the colonel by a total stranger. It 
was conjectured, however, that the judge had 
gone to Mobile during his trip, and that his 
troublesome kinsman was to be shipped off to 
climes where Ku-Klux were unknown, and where 
his propensities for mischief would have no field 
for operation. No further complaints of outrages 
or disorders ; everything was quiet and peaceful, 
and men and horses were having a good rest. 



CHAPTER V. 

Oke bright, beautiful evening late in February, 
it was my good fortune to find myself once more 
within " twenty minutes of Sandbrook" ; this 
time on no hurried visit, but with the deliberate 
intention of accepting the cordial invitation of 
the judge and Harrod to spend a month with 
them. I was to make their home my headquar- 
ters while attending to the limited amount of law 
business that called me to that vicinity. I had 
heard several times from the plantation since 
Vinton's letter, and the very last news I had re- 
ceived was penned by Miss Pauline's own fail 
hand, telling me in a sweet, happy, womanly 
letter of what neither you, who have had patience 
enough to read this, nor I could be in the least 
degree surprised to learn, — her engagement to 
Major Vinton. The major himself, she wrote, 
had been summoned as a witness before a court- 
martial, and would be gone several days, but 
back in time to welcome me. Then came a page 
about Amory : " He has entirely recovered ; 
that is to say, he is as strong and active as ever ; 
but still — I don't know how to express it ex- 
actly — he is not the same man he was before that 

82 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 83 

night. You know that the wound in his shoulder 
was a very slight one, and that his injuries were 
mainly shocks and bruises received by being 
thrown and dragged by his wounded horse. 
When he was well enough to drive about, the 
major used to bring him here frequently; and I 
really thought that he and Kitty were going to 
become great friends, for they wore ojff much of 
the old embarrassment and seemed to be getting 
along so nicely. Then he used to ride over and 
spend entire afternoons with us ; and then, all 
of a sudden, he stopped coming; only visits us 
now when he has to ; and is so changed, so con- 
strained and moody that I don't know what to 
make of it. I really believe that Kitty was grow- 
ing te like him ever so much; and she wonders, 
I know, at this sudden change. Even when he 
does come he avoids and barely looks at her." 

It was strange ; and I puzzled over it for some 
time. Matchmaking was hardly in my line of 
business, yet no spinster aunt could have taken 
more interest in the affair than myself. I was 
really anxious to get back to the plantation and 
see what could be made of it. 

Harrod and the carriage were at the station to 
meet me, and a rapid drive in the cool night air 
soon brought us to the dear old house again ; and 
there on the broad piazza, in the broad, 
cheerful stream of light froui the hall, stood the 
judge, Vinton, and Pauline ; and in a moment I 



34 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

had sprung from the carriage aad was receiving 
their warm and charming welcome. Vinton was 
as happy in his quiet, undemonstrative way as 
man could be, and the fond, proud light in his 
dark eyes as he looked down at the graceful form 
leaning so trustfully upon his arm, was a sight 
that made me envious. Presently Kitty came 
down ; but not the Kitty of old. Ah ! little girl, 
what is it that has made those soft eyes so heavy, 
so sad ? What has taken all the color from those 
round, velvety cheeks ? "What has become of the 
ringing, light-hearted laugh that came bubbling 
up from heart-springs that seemed inexhaustible 
in their freshness, their gladness ? It is of no use 
to smile and chatter and prate about your pleas- 
ure at seeing this antiquarian again. It is of no 
use to toss your little head and look at me with 
something of the old coquettish light in your 
eyes. You can't deceive me, little Kit; you are 
changed, sadly changed. I, who have been away 
60 long a time, can see what others only par- 
tially notice. 

During the evening we all gathered in the par- 
lor, talking over the events of my previous visit. 
Kitty had early tired of any share in the con- 
versation, and sat silent and absent, taking little 
heed of what was said, though once or twice, 
when we were not speaking of Amory, she rallied 
for a moment and made an effort. She had taken 
a chair near the window, and was more than half 



KITTY'S CONQUEST §5 

the time gazing dreamily out towards the road. 
At last Yinton said he must get back to camp, 
bade us all good-night ; his orderly came round 
with the horses, and Pauline went out to see him 
off, everybody else just at that particular moment 
finding something of extreme interest which de- 
tained him or her in the parlor. 

It is odd how long it takes to say good-night 
under those circumstances. Fully fifteen minutes 
elapsed before the spurred boot-heels were 
heard going down the steps ; then there was an- 
other slight detention, — cause, unknown ; time, 
three minutes and a half, — and finally the clatter 
of hoofs as they rode off, twenty-seven minutes 
by the clock after the time when the major had 
announced that he must be off at once, — couldn't 
stay another minute. 

When the hoof-beats had died away, Pauline 
came back to us radiant, lovely ; a;id even that 
tease Harrod could not find it in his heart to say 
one word on the subject of the major's unac- 
countable display of unmilitary tardiness, though 
he looked vastly as though he would like to. 
Good-nights were exchanged, and soon after I 
found myself cosily ensconced in my old quar- 
ters in the wing. 

About noon on the following day Mars trotted 
up the road, and, throwing his horse's rein over 
the gate-post, came " clinking" up the walk. 
His heels were decorated with a pair of huge 



86 KITTYS CONQUEST. 

Mexicar. spurs, with little pendants of steel 
attached to the rowels in such a way as to cause 
a jingling with every movement. I had gone 
out on the piazza to meet him, and he quickened 
his pace and waved his cap with a cheery " How 
are you, Mr. Brandon ?" the moment he caught 
sight of me. As he sprang up the steps I saw 
that he had at least lost none of his old activity ; 
and though thinner and a trifle paler than when I 
first met him, it was not at first glance noticeable. 

After the excitement of our meeting was over, 
however, and we were chatting over the Ku- 
Klux entertainments, I noticed how soon he be- 
came just the restless, absent, constrained fellow 
that Pauline had described. He changed color 
and started every time a footstep was heard in 
the hall ; greeted Pauline warmly when she came 
down, and seemed to be more himself when 
talking with her, but even then his eyes wan- 
dered to the doorway. Something was want- 
ing ; and at last he made a vigorous effort and 
stammered an inquiry as to " Miss Carrington's" 
health. 

" Kitty is pretty well, and will be down in a 
minute. She was writing to Aunt Mary when 
you came. If I were Kitty / wouldn't come 
down to see you at all, Mr. Frank Amory, for 
you've not been near us for the last ten days, 
and I presume we owe this call entirely to Mr. 
Brandon." 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 87 

Poor fellow ! he fidgets and looks woe-begone 
enough ; tries hard to plead constant duties, no 
lack of inclination, etc., and just in the midst of 
it all, the rustle of skirts and the patter of quick, 
light footsteps is heard in the hall, and Frank 
Araory starts up with the flush deepening on his 
cheek and forehead, and stands facing the door- 
way as little Kit comes in, — comes in with a face 
that flushes deeply as his own, with eyes that are 
raised to his but for one brief second and then 
seek any other object but the young soldier be- 
fore her, with a nervous, fluttering reply to his 
'' Good-morning, Miss Carrington ; I hope you're 
well ?" and finally, as she subsides into an arm- 
chair by the window, with an air of mingled 
relief and apprehension that puzzles me inex- 
pressibly. Amory, meantime, has resumed his 
seat (on his forage-cap this time), and plunged 
hastily into a description of a marvellous horse 
they have just concluded to purchase for oflicers' 
use. He must be a marvel ; and it is aston- 
ishing what an amount of interest Frank takes 
in telling Pauline all about his performances. 
Kitty sits by the window listening, but saying not 
a word; and after this sort of thing has been 
kept up some twenty minutes Pauline excuses 
herself. 

" Now don't go till I come back, Frank ; I'll 
only be gone a few minutes." And with a 
glance at me that seems, as Mark Twain says, 



88 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

** perfectly luminous with meaning" to her, but 
which in my masculine stupidity I fail to com- 
prehend until some minutes after, that young 
lady makes her exit. Then Mars turns upon 
me, utterly absorbed in the same horse, and with 
distracting volubility tells me the same rigma 
role he told Pauline, every word of which I 
had heard. Then he asks questions about 
Hank Smith that he had asked three or four 
times already, and just as I'm beginning to won- 
der whether his accident had not resulted in per- 
manent injury to his mental faculties a servant 
appears at the door. 

" Miss Summers says will Mr. Brandon please 
come and help her a minute." And as Mr. 
Brandon obligingly rises to comply with her 
request, Amory springs up too, whips out his 
watch, and exclaims, — 

" By Jove ! how time flies ! I told Vinton 
I'd be back for afternoon stables, — must be off I 
Good-by, Mr. Brandon ; come over to camp and 
see us. Good-by, Miss Carrington ; sorry I have 
to hurry." And out he goes ; clatters down the 
steps and back to his horse; throws the reins 
over the animal's head, and vaults into his sad- 
dle; and then, with one wave' of his hand, dashes 
off at a mad gallop. 

I turned again into the house, and this is what 
I saw in the parlor. Kitty Carrington, all alone, 
standing there at the window gazing after 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 89 

Amorj as lie disappeared down the road; her 
tiny white hands tightly clinching the window- 
sill ; two great big tears just starting from each 
eye and trickling slowly, heavily down her 
cheeks; her dainty form quivering with emo- 
tion. Little by little I am beginning to suspect 
the truth in the matter, and, as I turn softly 
away without attracting her attention, mentally 
resolve to unearth the whole secret. Pretty 
business for a man of my years, you will say, 
but " we lawyers are curious." 

N.B. — Pauline didn't want me at all. It was 
a ruse to get me away. 

For the next three days matters went on in 
pretty much the same groove. Amory came 
over to dinner once and was utterly absurd, — 
handed Miss Kit to her chair, took his allotted 
place beside her ; and hardly addressed one word 
to her tlirough the entire repast, though he gab- 
bled unceasingly to every one else. Just as 
soon as we could finish our cigars after dinner, 
and an adjournment was moved to the parlor, 
he declared he must be off; said he had a whole 
heap of commissary returns to make up before 
morning; and, with the briefest possible good- 
night to the ladies and the judge, away he went. 

Pauline looked puzzled, Vinton amused, and 
Kitty — out of the window. 

That night Mr. G. S. Brandon, who has 

already played too inquisitive a part in this little 
8* 



90 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

affair, resolved, before closing his eyes for a 
good, old-fashioned sleep, that he might as well 
be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, and pry still 
further ; but he never dreamed how odd would 
be the solution. 



CHAPTER VI. 

The next day Harrod Summers and I drove 
over to the cavalry camp to see Amory. It was 
a crisp, cheery morning, just enough wintry 
rime in earth and air and sky to make rapid 
motion a keen delight. As we neared the spot, 
the mellow notes of the trumpet came floating 
on the breeze, and as we rounded a bend in the 
road, we came in sight of the troop itself trotting 
across a broad open field. Mars was taking ad- 
vantage of the glorious weather to brush up on 
company drill, and we had arrived just in time 
to see it. 

It was a very pretty, stirring sight to my eyes ; 
for the dash and spirit of the manoeuvres were 
new to a man whose martial "associations had 
been confined to the curbstones of Broadway, 
barring that olistering march from Annapolis to 
the railway, and the month of feted soldiering at 
the capital and Camp Cameron in '61. Harrod 
gazed at it all with professional calm ; occasion- 
ally giving some brief and altogether too tech- 
nical explanation of evolutions that were beyond 
my comprehension. But the one thing which 
struck me most forcibly was that, though fre- 

91 



92 KITTY'S CONqVEST. 

quently trotting or galloping close to where w,i 
sat in the buggy, Mr. Frank Amory never took 
the faintest notice of us. His whole attention 
was given to his troop and the drill ; and with 
flashing sabre and animated voice, he darted 
here and there on his big chestnut sorrel, shout- 
ing, exhorting, and on occasion excitedly swear- 
ing at some thick-headed trooper; but for all the 
notice he took of us we might as well have been 
back at home. 

" Rather a cool reception," said I, " consider- 
ing the youngster was so anxious we should 
come over." 

" Why, that's all right," said Harrod. " It is 
a breach of military propriety to hold any kind 
of communication with lookers-on when a fel- 
low's at drill or on parade." 

And yet to my civilian notions this struck me 
as being uncivil. Less than a month afterwards 
I saw the same young fellow sit like a statue on 
his horse, and never give the faintest sign of 
recognition when the girl I knew he — well, that's 
anticipating — when a party of ladies were driven 
in carriages past his troop, so close to his horse's 
nose as to seriously discomfit that quadruped, 
and one of the young ladies was Miss Carring- 
ton. To my undisciplined faculties that sort of 
thing was incomprehensible. I looked on at the 
drill for a while, wondering how in the world 
those fellows could manage to keep their seats 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 93 

in the saddle without grabbing the pommel, 
when Harrod remarked that he believed he 
would go on into the village to attend to some 
business, and leave me at Amory's tent until he 
returned. Of course I could only assent ; and in 
another moment I was landed in front of the 
tent which had become so fixed a picture " in 
my mind's eye" since the afternoon Mr. Stiggins 
rode in to inquire where the lieutenant and his 
people had gone. A darky boy officiously 
brushed otf the seat of a camp-chair, saying that 
" Mos' like drill'd be over in ten minutes." So 
T sat me down under the canvas to wait. 

Amory's tent was not luxurious. It was one 
of the simple variety known as the " wall" tent, 
so called probably because for three feet from 
the ground the sides are vertical and give more 
room than the " A" tents of the rank and file. 
A camp-cot occupied one side ; a canvas-covered 
trunk stood at the head. Then on the other 
side of the tent was a rude field-desk, perched 
on four legs; the pigeon-holes crammed with 
portentous-looking blanks and papers, and the 
lid lowered to a horizontal. On this lay a square 
of blotting-paper, covered with ink-dabs and 
some stray papers, an ungainly inkstand, and one 
or two scattered pens and holders. A looking- 
glass about the size of one's face was swung on 
the front pole. A rude washstand was placed 
near the foot of the bed. A swinging pole, hung 



94 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

under the ridge-pole of the tent, constituted the 
wardrobe or clothes-closet of the occupant, and 
from this several garments were pendent. There 
was no tent floor; the bare ground was the car- 
pet; and but for one little table the abode would 
have been rude in the extreme as the habitation 
of a civilized being. The table in question stood 
at the entrance of the tent, under the " fly" or 
awning spread in front. A couple of pipes with 
brier-root stems lay thereon, and a jar of tobacco. 
But in an easel-frame of soft velvet, a frame rich 
and handsome, conspicuously so in contrast with 
all the surroundings, was a photograph — cabinet- 
size — of a woman's face. It was not there on the 
occasion of my first visit, nor was the table. But 
there sat the picture, the first thing one would 
notice in entering the tent; and, having nothing 
else to do, I proceeded to examine it. 

A sweet, placid, sorrow-worn face; eyes whose 
wrinkled lids spoke of age, but yet looked calmly, 
steadfastly into mine. Scanty hair, yet rippling 
over the brows and temples as though indicating 
that in years gone by the tresses had been full 
and luxuriant. Scanty hair, tinged with many 
a streak of gray, and carried back of the ears in 
a fashion suggestive of the days that long pre- 
ceded the war, — the days when Jenny Lind en- 
tranced us all at Castle Garden (though I claim 
to have been but a boy then) ; when Mario and 
Grisi were teaching us Knickerbockers the 



KITTV'S CONqUEST. 95 

beauties of Italian opera; when Count D'Orsay 
was the marvel of metropolitan society; when 
daguerreotypes were first introduced along Broad- 
way. All these I thought of as I looked into 
this placid face, so refined in its every line ; 
marking, too, that at the throat was clasped a 
portrait in plain gold frame, the inevitable indi- 
cation that the wearer was of Southern birth, for 
none but our Southern women wear thus out- 
wardly the portraits of those they love and have 
lost. The picture fascinated me ; it was so sweet, 
so simple, so homelike ; and, as I stood with it 
in my hands, I could plainly see the strong 
likeness between the features and those of my 
plucky young hero, whom I was half ready 
to be indignant with for ignoring me ten min- 
utes before. His mother I knew it to be at a 
glance. 

Just then came an orderly bearing a packet 
of letters. To my intense gratification — I don't 
know why — he saluted with his unoccupied hand 
as he said, " Letters for the lieutenant, sir." Was 
it possible that he thought I might be some staff- 
officer? He could not — that is, he would not, 
had he ever seen me straddle a horse — suppose 
me to be a cavalryman. Perhaps he had heard 
I was with the lieutenant the night he nabbed 
Hank Smith ; perhaps he — why, perhaps they — 
the troop — had heard I had charged through the 
woods to his support. Well, I took with digni- 



96 KITTY S CONQUEST. 

fied calm the bundle of letters lie handed me, and 
endeavored to look the suppositious character 
and place them carelessly on the table, when the 
superscription of the very first one attracted my 
attention. The writing was strangely familiar. 
There were four letters, — two " official," long 
and heavy ; two personal, and evidently of femi- 
nine authorship. It was my business to lay them 
on the table. I did nothing of the kind. Hold- 
ing the package in both hands, I sat stupidly 
staring at the topmost letter, — a tiny, dainty 
affair, — and striving to come back from dream- 
land. Where had I seen that superscription 
before? There stood the address, "Lieut. Frank 
Amory, — th U. S. Cavalry, Sandbrook Station, 
Memphis and Charleston R. R., Alabama," every 
letter as perfectly traced as through by the hand 
of an engraver; every i dotted, every t crossed, 
every capital having its due proportion, every 
letter wellnigh perfect. The superscription itself 
was a chirographic marvel. The writing was 
simply beautiful, and I had seen it before. It 
was familiar to me, or at least had been well 
known. Pondering over it, I gazed, of course, 
at the postmark: a mere blur. Something or 
some place in New York was all I could make 
out before it suddenly occurred to me that the 
whole thing was none of my business anyhow. 
I set the packet down on the table and strove to 
shut it from my mind ; but there that letter lay 



KITTF'S CONQUEST. 97 

on top, staring me in the face ; I could not keep 
mj eyes from it. I turned, picked it up and 
placed it on the desk inside the tent ; dropped a 
handkerchief that was lying there over it ; and 
returned to my place under the fly. I wanted 
to keep it out of my sight. 

Presently, the bustle and laughter among the 
tents of the soldiers near me gave warning that 
the troop had come in from drill. The next 
moment, as I was again holding and looking at 
the picture in the velvet frame. Mars came 
Bpringily forward, his sahre and spurs clinking 
with every stride. He pulled off his gauntlet, 
and held out his hand with a cheery and cordial 
" So glad to see you, Mr. Brandon," and then, 
as I was about to apologize for taking liberties 
with his belongings, he said, — and how can I 
throw into the words the tremulous tenderness 
of his voice? — 

"That's mother. My birthday present. It 
only came a few days ago, and I like to have it 
out here with me." 

And the boy took it from my hands, and stood 
for a moment, all glowing as he came from his 
rapid drill, and with the beads of perspiration 
on his face, and looked fondly at it. 

" It's the only decent picture I ever had of her, 
and, somehow, it almost seems as though she 
were here now. That Ku-Klux business upset 
her completely, and the blessed little mother 

Ti ff 9 



98 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

wants me to pull out and resign ; but I can't do 
that." 

" I have been admiring it for some time, Mr. 
Amory. The face attracted me at once, and it 
was easy to see the family resemblance. May I 
ask where your mother is living now ?" 

" In Boston now, but I think she longs to come 
South again. The North never seemed home to 
her. Father was in the old army. Perhaps 
Vinton has told you. He was killed at Freder- 
icksburg, at the head of his brigade; and my 
uncle, mother's younger brother, died of wounds 
received in the same fight." Amory's voice 
faltered a little and his color brightened. " Of 
course they were on opposite sides," he added, 
in a lower tone. 

I bowed silently. Nothing seemed the appro- 
priate thing to say just then. Presently Amory 
went on : 

" You see Pm about all she has left in the 
world, — her only son. And when husband and 
brother were both taken from her at one fell 
swoop, it made it hard to let me take up father's 
profession ; but it was always his wish, and the 
only thing I'm fit for, I reckon." 

"Po Yankees habitually say 'I reckon'?" I 
asked, by way of lightening up the rather solemn 
tone of the conversation. 

Mars laughed. " Why," said he, " I'm more 
than half Southern ; born in North Carolina, and 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. QQ 

spending much of my boyhood there at mother's 
old home. They used to call me ' reb' the whole 
time I was a cadet. It is a wonder I wasn't an 
out-and-out ' reb' too. All mother's people were, 
and they never have been reconciled to her for 
sticking to father and his side of the question. 
Poor little mother," he added, while the tears 
gathered in his eyes, " she is alone in the world 
if ever woman was, and I sometimes wonder if 
I ought not to yield to her wishes and go and be 
a clerk of some kind." 

All the glow, all the life that possessed him as 
he came in fresh from the exercise of his drill 
seemed to have left Mars by this time. He was 
profoundly sad and depressed. That was plainly 
to be seen. Hoping to find something as a dis- 
traction to his gloomy reflections, I called his 
attention to the mail that had arrived during his 
absence. He moved negligently towards the 
desk, raised the handkerchief with weary in- 
difference, and glanced at the packet underneath. 
Instantly his whole manner changed ; the color 
sprang to his face ; his eyes flamed, and a nervous 
thrill seemed to shoot through his frame. Paying 
no attention to the others, he had seized the 
dainty missive that so excited my curiosity, and 
with a hand that plainly shook tore it open, 
tui'ned his back to me with the briefest " Excuse 
me one minute," and was speedil}' so absorbed 
in the letter that he never noticed me as I rose 



100 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

and strolled out to the front of the tent and the 
bright wmtry sunshine beyond. The boy needed 
to be alone. 

Fully fifteen minutes passed by before he re- 
joined me, coming out with a quick, nervous step, 
and a face that had grown white and almost old 
in that time. What could be wrong with him ? 

" Mr. Brandon, I beg your pardon for being 
80 inhospitable. My letters were important, and 
— and rather a surprise, one of them. It is just 
about noon. May I ofter you a toddy ? It's the 
best I can do." 

Mr. Brandon, to the scandal of his principles, 
decided that on this occasion he would accept 
the proffered refreshment. It seemed to be a 
relief to Mars. He bustled about, getting sugar 
and glasses and some fresh spring water ; then 
speedily tendering me a goblet, produced a black 
bottle from his trunk. 

" Shall I pour for you ?" said he. " Say when." 
And in a moment the juice of the rye and other 
less harmful ingredients were mingled with the 
sweetened water. 

" You will excuse me," said he. " I never 
touch it, except — well, that drink I took the 
night on the train after our tussle with Smith is 
the only one I've taken since I joined the troop. 
I promised mother, Mr. Brandon." 

The reader has already discovered that Mr. 
Brandon could readily make a sentimental idiot 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. IQl 

of himself on slight provocation. Hearing these 
words of Mr. Amorj's and the renewed allusion 
to the mother who filled so big a place in the 
boy's heart, Mr. Brandon deposited his glass on 
the table and held out his hand ; took that of the 
surprised young soldier ; gave it a cordial grip ; 
made an abortive attempt to say something neat 
and appropriate ; and broke abruptly off at the 
first word. Then Harrod came back. 

" Brandon," said he, " there's the mischief to 
pay in New Orleans. I've just received the 
papers, and it looks as though there would be 
riot and bloodshed with a vengeance." 

" What's up now ?" I asked, with vivid interest. 

" It seems to be a breaking out of the old row. 
Two legislatures, you know, and a double-headed 
executive. More troops are ordered there." 

I eagerly took the paper and read the head- 
lines. The same old story, onl}'^ worse and more 
of it. The State-house beleaguered ; the metro- 
politan police armed with Winchesters and man- 
ning a battery ; the citizens holding indignation 
meetings and organizing for defence against 
usurping State government ; two riots on Canal 
Street, and a member of one legislature shot 
down by the sergeant-at-arms of the other; a 
great mob organizing to attack the governor and 
the State-house, etc., etc. It all looked familiar 
enough. I had seen the same thing but a short 
time before. It was simpl}^ a new eruption of 

9* 



102 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

the old volcano, but a grave one, unless I utterly 
misjudged the indications. 

" Amory," said Harrod, " mount your horse 
and come over to dinner with us. Mr. Brandon 
and I must go back, for there are matters in the 
mail which require my attention at once." 

But A.mory said he could not leave. In Vin- 
ton's absence he felt that he ought to stick to 
camp. We drove back as we came. 

Both the young ladies were on the gallery 
when we drove up. Harrod shook his head in 
response to the look of inquiry in Pauline's eyes. 

" Not back yet, and no news of him, — unless 
— unless — there should be something in this let- 
ter," said he, with provoking gravity and delib- 
eration, as he felt in every pocket of his garments 
in apparently vain search, while the quizzical 
look in his face proclaimed that he was purposely 
reserving the right pocket for the last. 

Miss Summers stood with exemplary patience 
and outstretched hand. At last the eagerly-ex- 
pected letter was produced, and Harrod and I 
went in to talk over the startling tidings from 
]Srew Orleans. The next moment we heard 
Pauline's rapid step in the hall and ascending 
the stairs ; heard her go hurriedly to her room 
and close the door. Harrod looked puzzled and 
a little worried. 

" I hope there is no bad news from Vinton," 
he said. " That rush to her room is unlike her." 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. IQ^ 

Then tlie swish of Kitty's skirts was heard. 
Harrod stepped out and spoke some words to her 
in a low tone. Her reply was anxious and startled 
in its hurried intonation, but the words were in- 
distinct. 

" She says Pauline did not read her letter 
through at all, but sprang up with tears in her 
eyes and merely said she must run up-stairs a 
few minutes. What do you suppose is wrong ?" 

Of course I had no explanation to oifer. 
Pauline did not return for an hour. "When she 
again appeared she was very pale and quiet. 
Harrod meantime had taken a horse and ridden 
off to Sandbrook, where he wanted to reach the 
telegraph-office. It was late in the evening when 
he returned. I had been reading in the library 
for some time w^hile the ladies were at the piano. 
He strode into the hall and stood at the parlor- 
door. 

" Pauline, did the major tell you in his letter ?*' 
he asked. 

" Tell me what ?" she inquired, with quickly 
rising color. 

" That their orders had come ?" She hesitated 
and made no reply. Quickly he stepped forward 
and threw his arm around her, tenderly kissing 
her forehead. 

" You'll make a soldier's wife, Pauline. You 
can keep a secret." 

And now, looking quickly at Miss Kitty, I saw 



104 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

that she had risen and was eagerly gazing at 
them, a strange, wistful light in her sweet young 
face. 

" What is it all, colonel ?" I inquired. 

'' The cavalry left for ITew Orleans at dark. 
Araory got telegraphic orders soon after we left, 
and Viiiton came in from the "West by the even- 
ing train and took command at the station. 
Neither of them had time to come out here to 
say good-hy," he added, with an involuntary 
glance at Kitty, while still holding Pauline's hand 
in his own. 

" You saw Major Vinton ?" Pauline calmly 
asked. 

" Yes, dear. I have a note for you. He was 
only there thirty minutes. Amory had the troop, 
horses and all, on the cars before the Memphis 
train got in." 

She took her note and with him walked into 
the library. Irresolutely I stepped out on the 
gallery a moment. Then returning for a cigar 
or something consolatory, I nearly collided with 
Miss Kitty at the parlor-door. She recoiled a 
pace; then with her bonny head bowed in her 
hands, with great sobs shaking her slender form, 
my unheroic little heroine rushed past me and up 
the stairs to her own room. I felt like a spy. 



CHAPTER VII. 

The next few days passed somewhat gloomily. 
Eager interest centred in the daily paper from 
'New Orleans. The Times in those days was 
" run" entirely in the interest of a strong fac- 
tion not inaptly termed " carpet-baggers." Eew 
of the Republican party of the white element 
had been natives and property-owners in the 
State before the war. All of the colored race, 
most of them at least, had been residents per- 
haps, but held as property rather than as prop- 
erty-owners. The Picayune, always the repre- 
sentative of the old regime in the South, was 
naturally the journal which found its way into 
our distant household. Its pictures of affairs in 
the Crescent City were startling beyond question, 
and its columns were filled with grave portent of 
riot, insurrection, and bloodshed. 

Judge Summers was visibly worried by its 
reports. Harrod looked gloomy and ill at ease ; 
Pauline very grave ; Kitty picturesquely doleful. 
All, however, seemed to relax no effort to make 
me feel at home and " entertained," but the 
evident cloud overshadowed me. I began to 
want to get away. 

106 



106 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

If all New Orleans were swept bj the flames, 
my personal losses would be slight; but the 
small library I owned would be an excuse. My 
confidence that neither side would set fire to 
anything was only equalled by that which I felt 
that both would join forces to put it out if they 
did. For two years we had been having just the 
same exhilarating experiences, and it never came 
to burning anything but a little powder. Some- 
times one side, sometimes another would raise a 
huge mob, and with much pomp and parade, 
with much blatant speech-making and wide pub- 
lication of their intentions, would march noisily 
through the streets towards some public build- 
ing, at that moment held by the opposite party, 
avowedly for the purpose of taking it by force 
of arms. The first year there had been some 
desultory shooting, but no casualties to speak of. 
The second there had been less damage, though 
far more display; for by this time there were 
three parties in the field. Then, however, Uncle 
Sam assumed the role of peace-maker; sent a 
general thither with his staft* (giving him a major- 
general's title and a major's force), with vague 
orders as to what he was to do, as I chanced to 
know, beyond keeping the peace and upholding 
the law and the constituted authorities. As 
three parties claimed to be the "constituted au- 
thorities," it seemed embarrassing at times to tell 
which to uphold. "Washington ofiicials declined 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. ]07 

to decide for him, so the veteran soldier hit on 
the happy expedient of upholding the party that 
was attacked. This put him squarely in the 
right so far as keeping the peace was concerned ; 
for whichever crowd sallied forth to whip the 
other, invariably found a small battalion of bay- 
onets, or on one occasion a solitary aide-de-camp 
representing the United States. They would not 
"fire on the flag"; so retired to thunder at one 
another through the press. But it put him 
squarely in the wrong where settling the ques- 
tion for good and all was concerned. So long as 
the factions felt sure they would not be .allowed 
to fight, the more they talked about doing it; 
and the real sufferers were the patient, plodding 
infantry officers and men, who were kept trudg- 
ing up and down, night and day, from town to 
barracks. They were tired, hungry, jaded-look- 
ing fellows that winter. I had called three of 
them into my room one chill morning after they 
had been standing all night on the curb-stones 
of the State-house waiting for an attack they 
knew would never come ; warmed them up with 
coffee or cocktails as they might prefer ; then one 
of them opened his heart. 

" This whole thing is the most infernal farce," 
said he. " Ten to one the true way to stop it is 
to send U3 miles away and let them get at one 
another. The Lord knows I'd afford them every 
encouragement. They don't want to fights If 



108 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

old General Fitz Blazes would only send me with 
my company beldnd instead of between these 
howling idiots they'd evaporate quick enough." 

Well I recalled every bit of this ! It was 
when the " radical" party was split up into local 
factions, each demanding the State-house — and 
the Treasury; but — things were different now. 
The old residents, the business men, the repre- 
sentative citizens of the city had stood that sort 
of thing just as long as human endurance and 
their ebbing purses could stand it. They now 
had organized and risen against the perturbed 
State authorities; and when that class of men 
began shooting somebody was going to be hurt. 
As yet nothing aggressive had been done ; but 
the Republican government was tottering on its 
Louisiana throne, and appealed for aid. This it 
was that was sending troops from all directions 
to the Crescent City. I decided to go and pro- 
tect my lares and penates, trivial though they 
might be. 

To my relief, yet surprise, the moment I men- 
tioned this to Colonel Summers his face lighted 
up with an expression of delight. 

" Mr. Brandon, we'll go together, and as soon 
as you like." 

Noticing my evident surprise, he added, " To 
tell the truth I ought to go, and at once. Will 
you come into father's library and let me ex- 
plain ?" 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 109 

Assenting, as a matter of course, I followed 
him. Pauline was seated by her father's side as 
we entered, writing, as she often did, from his 
dictation. 

" Father," broke in the colonel, abruptly, " we 
can spare you all that work. Mr. Brandon tells 
me he has decided to go at once to New Orleans. 
I will go with him, and take the papers." 

The judge rose somewhat slowl}" — anxiety had 
told on him very much in the last day or two — 
and greeted me with his old-fashioned courtesy, 

" It is a source of great regret to me — to us 
all — that you should leave us; yet you have 
doubtless anxieties, as indeed I have, — great, 
ones, — and I wish it were in my power to go 
myself; but that cannot be, for a fortnight at 
least; and by that time, as things are looking 
now, it may be too late, — it may be too late. 
My son will tell you " he broke off suddenly. 

Miss Summers had risen ; her sweet, thorough- 
bred face had grown a little paler of late, and 
she stood anxiously regarding her father, but 
saying not a word. For some moments we sat 
in general conversation; then, noticing how tired 
the judge was looking, I rose, saying it was time 
to make preparations. 

Two hours later, the old carriage rattled up to 
the steps. The colonel stood aside, holding some 
final consultation with his father. Miss Sum- 
mers, with a blush that was vastly becoming to 

10 



110 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

her, handed me a letter for the major. "As yet, 
you know, Major Vinton has not been able to 
send me his New Orleans address. They arc 
barely there by this time ; but you were so in- 
cautious as to offer to take anything to him, so I 
burden you with this." 

Kitty Carrington was looking on with wistful 
eyes. 

" And you, little lady ? what note or message 
will you intrust to me ?" 

She had smoothed back her bright hair. She 
was looking again as she had the night she 
begged to play nurse over our unconscious 
Mars. She looked older, graver, but so gentle, 
80 patient in the trouble that had come into her 
young life. Whatever that trouble might have 
been I could not say. There was something 
very pathetic about the slender little figure as 
she stood there. 

For all answer to my question, she shook her 
head, smiling rather sadly, yet striving to throw 
archness into her accompanying gesture. The 
faint shrug of her pretty shoulders, the forward 
movement of her hands, with open and extended 
palms, — something so Southern in it all. I could 
not help noting it. Possibly I stared, as previous 
confessions indicate that I had that adventurous 
night in the cars. 

My rudeness caused her to turn sharply away 
with heightened color. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. m 

Then came general good-byes, good speeds, 
good lucks, promises to write, — those promises, 
like so many others, made only to be broken. 
"We clambered into the carriage. Already the 
driver was gathering his whip and reins ; had 
" chucked" to his sleepy team. Harrod was 
sitting on the side nearest the group on the 
steps ; I craning my neck forward for a last look 
at them, Kitty was eagerly bending forward; 
her lips parted, her eyes dilated, her fingers 
working nervously. Already the wheels had 
begun to crunch through the gravel, when with 
sudden movement she darted like a bird down 
the steps. 

^^ Harrod!" she cried. 

" Hold on, driver," was the response, as he 
bent to the doorway to meet her. 

Standing on tiptoe, her tiny white hands 
clutching his arm, a vivid color shooting over 
her face, her eyes one moment nervously, appre- 
hensively, reproachfully glancing at me, plainly 
saying, "Please don't listen," then, raised to his 
bronzed, tender face, as he bent ear towards her 
lips in response to the evident appeal. She rap- 
idly whispered half a dozen words. " Do you 
understand? Sure you understand?" she ques- 
tioned eagerly, as now she leaned back, looking 
up into his eyes. 

He bent still farther, kissed her forehead. 
" Sure," he nodded. " Sure." 



112 KITTrS CONQUEST. 

Then back she sprang. Crack went the whip, 
and we rolled away towards the gate. 

Looking back, my eyes took in for the last 
time the old home ; and the picture lingers with 
me, will live with me to the end of my lonely 
life. The red-gold light of the setting sun 
streamed in all its glory on the southern front 
of the quaint plantation house. The tangled 
shrubbery, the sombre line of the dense forest 
beyond the fields, the vines and tendrils that 
clung about the gallery railing and the wooden 
pillars, the low-hanging eaves, the moss-covered 
line of porch-roof, — all were tinged, gilded, 
gleaming here and there with the warmth and 
glow of the gladness-giving rays. The windows 
above blazed with their reflected glory. Even 
old Blondo's curly hide and Jake Biggs's woolly 
pate gained a lustre they never knew before. 
All around the evidences of approaching decay 
and present dilapidation, so general throughout 
the bright sunny South years after the war, all 
around the homeliest objects, the wheelbarrow and 
garden tools, there clung a tinge of gladness in 
answering homage to the declining king of day ; 
but, central figures of all, the trio we left upon 
the steps, ihei^ fairly stood in a halo of mellow 
gold. The gray-haired gentleman waving his 
thin hand in parting salutation ; the noble, 
womanly girl at his side, half supporting, half 
leaning upon him ; and on the lower stair, kiss- 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 113 

ing her hand, waving her dainty kerchief, her 
eyes dancing, her cheeks aflame, her white teeth 
flashing through the parted lips, her fragile form 
all radiance, all sweet, glowing, girlish beauty, 
stood Kitty Carrington ; she who but a moment 
before had seemed so patiently sad. 

"Did you ever see anything prettier?" I 
gasped, as at last the winding roadway hid them 
from our sight. 

"Kitty, Brandon? — she's a darling!" was the 
warm-hearted answer. 

That was precisely my opinion. 

All the way into Sandbrook 1 was tortured 
with curiosity to know the purport of the mys- 
terious parting whisper. It would not do to let 
Colonel Summers suspect that of me; neither 
would it answer to propound any question. We 
had much to talk of that is of no interest and 
has no bearing on our story, but it kept us em- 
ployed until we reached the station. 

Our train was due at 7.45, going west, thts 
same hour at which the troops had left. Their 
single passenger-car and the four freight-cars on 
which their horses were carried had been coupled 
to the regular train. They had gone, we learned, 
to Grand Junction ; thence down the Mississippi 
Central. The station-master was an old army 
friend of the colonel's. He received us with all 
courtesy, and immediately asked us into his own 

little office. 

h 10* 



114 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

" Reckon you'd best just make yourselves com- 
fortable, gentlemen; that train's nigb onto two 
hours late, near as I can make it." 

" Two hours late ! Why, that will ruin our 
connection !" exclaimed Harrod. 

" They're going to try and make the Central 
wait over," was the answer, " but I'd bet high 
on our being later'n we think for. Once a fellow 
gets off his schedule on this road, he's more apt 
to be losing all the time than gaining," 

The colonel and I looked at each other a mo- 
ment in some dismay. Quandary though it was, 
there was nothing for it but to wait, and wait we 
did, two — three hours. The darkness grew in- 
tense back towards the Tennessee ; the loungers 
in the waiting-room or platform in groups of 
two or three, rose, yawned, stretched themselves, 
" 'Lowed t'warn't no use waitin' ; could see the 
derned train any other night just as well," and 
took themselves and their tobacco-juice off. The 
lights across the way, beyond the tracks, died 
out one by one, until only those two were left 
which represented the rival saloons, still keeping 
open for the presumable benefit of some prowler 
hoping to get trusted for a drink. Finally only 
the station-master and ourselves were left, all 
drowsy, but the former still seated, with his one 
remaining hand close to his telegraph instru- 
ment. Still no news of the train. I began to 
doze. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. I15 

It could not have been more than ten or fifteen 
minutes before the clickins; of the instrument 
aroused me. Having long since ceased to care 
whether the train now came or not, since we had 
lieard by nine that the Central would not wait, 
I only sleepily gazed at the operator. The colonel 
had gone asleep, and the sound did not awake 
him. But another moment the expression on 
the face of the man sitting so intently over his 
table aroused me to eagerness. At first profes- 
sionally indifferent, it grew suddenly clouded; 
then a look of keen distress came upon it as he 
quickly glanced around at his old comrade. 

I involuntarily sprang up and approached the 
table. He had written half the message, then 
dropped pencil and hammered away at the key. 

" For him," said he, with a backward jerk of 
the head to indicate the colonel. 

It seemed an endless time before he could get 
the thing straightened out and the message 
written. 

" Please wake him," said he. 

I gently shook Harrod's shoulder. He started 
up with soldierly promptitude. 

" Train coming ?" he asked, as be began gath- 
ering his traps. 

" Not yet, colonel. It's news from the boys, 
the cavalry." 

" Got to New Orleans all right ?" 

" Got there ; but — read for yourself." 



116 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

"With, a face that paled even in the dim light 
of the station, and lips that trembled under hia 
moustache, the colonel read, handed it to ue 
without a word, and turned away. 

This was the message : 

" New Orleans, Tuesday, 
" Colonel H. Summers, Sandbrook Station, M. and C. K. K., 
Alabama. 
" Arrived yesterday. Vinton dangerously ill ; delirious 
Post surgeons in charge. If possible, come. 

"Frank Amort." 

Then we three looked at one another with 
faces sad and blanched. Harrod was the first to 
speak. 

" May I take your horse, Billy ?" 
" Yes, and the house and barn if it'll help." 
" Then I'm off for home at once, for Pau- 
line." 

The delay of that train was a blessing in dis- 
guise. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

A DIM, murky morning it was that dawned on 
Sandbrook the following day. I had spent the 
livelong night at the station. The missing train 
came unheeded, soon after Colonel Summers on 
"Billy's" horse loped off into the northern dark- 
ness. I had sent a dispatch to Amory, care 
of Department Headquarters in New Orleans. 
" Billy" had hospitably invited me to share his 
humble breakfast, made most relishable though 
by the steaming coffee " cooked" army fashion 
in a battered old pot with a reliable lid. I had 
noted with respect and with pleasure the fine 
picture of General Lee hanging over the narrow 
mantel, and the battered old cavalry sabre be- 
neath it ; and was beginning to ask myself how 
I could best employ the day until evening train- 
time, when the rapid beat of hoofs and the 
familiar rattle of the carriage-wheels sounded in 
my ears. 

" Hyar they come," said " Billy." " I knew 
they would." 

Even before we could reach the platform, the 
carriage had whirled up there and Harrod sprang 
from the box-seat. 

117 



118 KITTY'S CON qv EST. 

" That freight gone by yet, Billy ?" 

" The freight ! Lord, no ! Colonel, you're 
not going to take Miss Summers that way ?" 

" It hasn't gone, dear," he quickly spoke to the 
silent inmate of the carriage. " But it's due how 
soon?" turning again to his friend. 

" Ten minutes, colonel, and on time, too, if 
you're bound to go by her." 

" By all means. "We may strike something at 
Corinth; if not, we'll go on to the Junction." 
Then with lowered voice, " Anything is better 
than waiting at such a time. We'd better get 
them out, I think." 

Them ! Who could be there ? thought I, for 
up to this time I had thought best not to intrude. 
Now I stepped forward as he opened the carriage- 
door, and with light, quick spring out popped 
Kitty. 

"Mr. Brandon will take charge of you. Kit; 
there's a dear," said he, gently, then turned again 
to the door, and tenderly handed out his sister. 
She came instantly to me with dry ej^es, and firm, 
low voice, ovAy with face so pale. She frankly 
held forth her hand, which — which I took in both 
my own. 

" Have you heard anything further ?" 

I shook my head. 

" And you have been sitting up here all night 
waiting for us How kind, yet how tired you 
must be !" 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 119 

" I never expected you till eveniDg," I an- 
swered, bluntly, and was rewarded by a look of 
quick, reproachful surprise. 

" Harrod reached us at one o'clock. It took 
very little time to get ready. Mr. Brandon, can 
you make ajiy conjecture as to the nature of his 
illness ?" 

" None whatever ; fever of some kind, I am 
half inclined to believe, contracted while off on 
this court-martial tour." 

She bowed her head, and now silent tears fell 
from her eyes. Harrod led her to one side and, 
putting his arm around her, stood whispering 
cheeringly to her. Then I turned to Kitty, who 
was very quietly engaged in getting out satchels, 
baskets, and travelling-bags ; all was done before 
I reached her. 

" It is a surprise to see you, Miss Kitty." 

" A surprise ! Surely you did not suppose I 
would let Paulie go on so sad a journey without 
me. There are many ways in which I can help 
her." 

There was no answer to the wisdom of that 
statement. The distant whistle of the freight 
had twice been heard, and in ten minutes our 
party of four were disposed in the conductor's 
caboose. The situation had been explained to 
that officer in very few words by Harrod and 
" Billy ;" and, with that almost chivalrous cour- 
tesy which the roughest-looking men in the South 



120 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

show to the gentler sex on all occasions I ever 
witnessed, the train-hands had busied themselves 
in making a comfortable corner for the ladies. 
Kude and poor were the appliances, but Walter 
Raleigh never laid down his priceless cloak for 
foot of royal mistress with truer grace than did 
those rough ex-soldiers spread their blankets, 
coats, and pillows to make a soft substructure 
for the heavy shawls which the ladies had with 
them. Watching, as I have on a thousand occa- 
sions, the gentle courtesy of Southern men to 
women, high or low, I never lack for explanation, 
never wonder how they came to fight so well. 
Bayard Taylor struck the key-note when he 
wrote, — . 

" The bravest are the tenderest, 
The loving are the daring." 

At noon we were at Corinth and eagerly ques- 
tioning the officials there. No train till nine. 

" What chance by going to Grand Junction ?" 

"No better, colonel; they've had the custom- 
ary smash-up on the Central, and 'taint no use 
trying. Even if the road weren't blocked, their 
south-bound express don't get off as early as ours 
from here." 

" Are there no trains coming south, not even 
freight?" 

" Colonel, I'm sorry, but there's not a train 
of any kind, — nothin' except a special, going 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. ]2l 

through a-whoopin' for Orleans, I suppose, with 
a lot o' damyankees." 

" "What ! a special with troops, do you mean ?" 
asked Harrod, eagerly. 

"Exactly; somewhere from up in Tennessee. 
Two or three companies — but. Lord ! j^ou couldn't 
ride with them even if they'd let you. They 
telegraphed ahead here for coffee for seventy 
men, and want to take the kettles on to the next 
station. Not much " 

" Never mind, Mr. Agent," broke in Harrod, 
impatiently; " when are they due?" 

"Coffee's ordered for 12.30. Reckon they'll 
be along very soon," replied the nettled func- 
tionary. 

"What say you, Brandon? Shall we try 
it?" 

" Most assuredly ; and I think it can be done." 

Four pairs of anxious, eager eyes watched that 
train of " damyankees" as it came rushing into 
the station sharp at 12.30. A crowd of sullen- 
looking " white trash" had gathered, a larger 
knot of curious and eager darkies, to see the 
sight. The engine whizzed past the platform; 
then two passenger-cars, from every window of 
which protruded blue-capped, dust-begrimed sol- 
dier heads ; sentries stood at the doors, and only 
as the last car — a third passenger-car — came op- 
posite us did the train stop. A sharp, business- 
like young fellow, in dust-covered fatigue dress 
y 11 



122 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

with infantry shoulder-straps and cap, sprang 
out. 

"That coffee ready?" he asked, bounding at 
the agent at once. 

" Wall, I s'pose so," drawled the party ad- 
dressed, as though desirous of giving all the 
annoyance he could. 

" If you want your money you'd better know, 
and lively too. We've no time to waste. Tumble 
out here. Sergeant Triggs. Bring six men while 
this party is waking up." 

Then as his men went into the kitchen to brinjr 
out the steaming caldrons, I asked if I could see 
the commanding officer on immediate and im- 
portant business. 

*' Certainly, sir; rear car. Come this way." 

We followed him, Harrod and I; found the 
forward half of the third car filled, as were the 
other two, with the rank and file. At the rear 
end were half a dozen sleepy, dusty, and dis- 
gusted-looking gentlemen. 

" This is Major Williams, sir," said the busi- 
ness-like youngster, and in an instant he was out 
on the platform again. 

A tall, dust-colored officer rose to meet my ex- 
tended card and hand, mild surprise in his eyes. 
" Major," said I, " Major Vinton, of the cavalry, 
lies dangerously ill in Kew Orleans. He is en- 
gaged to the sister of my friend. Colonel Sum- 
mers. No train leaves here until nine to-night, 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 123 

and in our eagerness to get to Vinton before it 
be too late we ask to be taken with you." 

For an instant the commanding officer was 
staggered by my impetuous harangue, but " he 
rallied." 

" Major Vinton, say you ? I'm distressed to 
hear it. I know him well by reputation, though 
it has not been my good fortune to meet him. 

We — we must find some way Excuse me, 

let me speak one instant with the quartermas- 
ter." 

He quickly stepped to a bulky, stolid-looking 
youth, and addressed him in few rapid words. 
The whistle blew, — my heart stood still. He 
sprang to a window, stuck out his head, and 
shouted, — 

" A — a — Mr. J^rpin. Stop the train. Don't 
start till I tell you." 

" All right, sir," came back in the quick, sharp 
tones we had heard before. 

Again the major and the stolid youth met. 
"We heard snatches of the latter's words, — " no 
precedent, no authority," — and my heart again 
sank. Like Mr. Perker of blessed memory, I 
was about to interpose with "But my dear sir, 
my dear sir," when Mr. Turpiu burst in like a 
thunder-clap at the rear door. 

" Jupiter Ammon, fellows ! Blow the dust 
from your eyes if you want to see the prettiest 
girl in the South !" 



124 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

"Never mind precedent; we'll make a prece- 
dent," broke in the major, impatiently. " Gen- 
tlemen," — he turned to us, — " you see how for- 
lorn are our surroundings, but you and yours are 
welcome." The whole thing took less time than 
it takes to read it. 

Harrod sprang for his sister. Mr. Turpin 
sprang for Kitty. Eager hands seized the bags 
and traps, shoving them through windows, any- 
where, anyhow ; and half bewildered, all grateful, 
all surprise, Pauline and Kitty found themselvefe 
aboard, and we were spinning out of inhospit- 
able Corinth. 

" Pardon our great haste, ladies," I heard the 
major saying. "We must be in New Orleans 
some time in the early morning." The " dam- 
yankees" were going to get us there twenty-four 
hours ahead of any other arrangement we could 
have made. 

Shall I ever forget that almost breathless ride ? 
" Be here to-morrow morning without fail" were 
the words of the dispatch Major Williams had 
received at the point where his train left the 
Louisville road and swung into the rails of the 
Mobile and Ohio. It was the " longer way 
round," — that through Mobile, — but some late 
experiences had proved it the shorter way home ; 
and, as the conductor presently explained to the 
major, on entering the car, " Pve given the engi- 
neer orders to jump her for all she's worth. We 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 125 

only stop for water and passing one up-train. 
Even the express has to side-track for us." 

Then the conductor wiped his hot brow, and 
with infinite surprise looked first at the ladies 
just getting settled into the seats eager hands had 
been dusting and preparing for them, then at me. 
Then Harrod came quickly to us, and in him he 
recognized at once Colonel Summers of the Ala- 
bama cavalry of by-gone days. "With the Free- 
masonry of old campaigners, they gripped hands 
before questions of any kind were put. Harrod 
promptly explained the situation. " Thanks to 
these gentlemen, we are permitted to share their 
car. Of course we settle with you for the fare. 
But for their kindness we could not have reached 
!N"ew Orleans before late, perhaps too late, to- 
morrow night." 

The conductor turned to the oflicers : " Major 
"Williams, sir (yes, he did say " sah," and I liked 
to hear it), I want to thank you in the name of 
the road for your prompt courtesy to these friends 
of mine. I had to j ump for the telegraph-office 
myself, and did not see them. You can just bet 
your life, sir, the Mobile and Ohio shall know 
of it, and they'll thank you in a way I'm not 
empowered to." 

And so, whizzing at forty-five miles an hour. 
Southron and Yank were drawing into the 
brotherhood of a common sympathy. 

And so it went all through that grimy after- 
11* 



126 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

noon. With what unremitting thoughtfuhiess 
and care those fellows looked after our fair 
charges ! The sanctity of her grief and anxiety 
rendered Miss Summers the object of the deepest 
respect and,, sympathy. Reclining at the rear of 
the car, her veil drawn over her face, none hut 
Harrod ventured to approach her; but Kitty was 
the centre of incessant attention, and through 
her all manner of improvised delicacies were 
brought to Pauline. The dust was stifling, 
and indefatigable Mr. Turpin appeared from 
somewhere in front with a tin basin filled with 
cracked ice. The doctor came forward with a 
silver cup of delicious lemonade (he had levied 
on his pannier for lime-juice and powdered sugar) 
dexterously rendered soulful by a dash of Vini 
Gallici. Kitty smiled her thanks to both, and a 
duplicate of the beverage was grateful to her 
silent cousin. We flew over the rattling rails, 
and the jarring was incessant. The doctor pro- 
duced an air-pillow for Pauline's head. We 
stopped somewhere for water, and the major dis- 
appeared. The ladies had brought luncheon in 
a large basket — but no appetites. The soldiers 
had rations and were filled. The officers had not 
had a mouthful since a breakfast at 3 a.m., and 
were hungry. No chance for a bite until 5 p.m., 
when, said the conductor, they might grab a 
sandwich at Ragsdale's, at Meridian. "But we 
can't stop three minutes, boys." Kitty overheard 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 127 

it. She was in animated conversation with a tall 
subaltern, who claimed to be from Kentucky. 
They were sitting three seats ahead of Miss 
Summers, who was undisturbed by their chatter; 
all voices were subdued as far as was possible. 
Mr. Turpin, who was a man of few words but vast 
action, was hovering about, eager for a chance to 
do something. She knew it. They all seem to 
have infinite intuition that way. 

" Oh, Mr. Turpin, would you please bring me 
our lunch-basket?" And Turpin was down upon 
as like his namesake of old, demanding the bas- 
ket in a manner suggestive of " or your lives." 
Another second and it was deposited in front of 
her, and she bade him summon his brother- 
hood; and they went, even the stolid quarter- 
master, who felt sheepish apparently. And there 
she sat like a little Lady Bountiful, dispensing 
to each and all (a Southern lunch-basket reminds 
me of the parable of the loaves and fishes), and 
they surrounded her, eating and adoring. 

At five we rolled into Meridian, and Rags- 
dale's sandwiches were forgotten. Major Wil- 
liams sprang from the train. 

"Yes, dear," I heard Harrod saying to his 
sister, " I will try and send a dispatch from 
here," and with that he rose. I went with him 
in search of the telegraph-office. At the door 
we met the major, some open dispatches in his 
hand. 



128 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

" Have we time to send a despatch to New 
Orleans ?" asked Harrod, eagerly. 

" Hardly," said the major, with a quiet smile. 
" But won't this do ?" and he placed in Harrod's 
hand one of the papers. The message read : 

" Telegram received. Assure Vinton's friends that fever 
is less. He receives best care. We are hopeful now. 

" Reynolds, A.A.G." 

" Thank God !" I uttered. 

Summers, with tears starting to his eyes, 
grasped the soldier's hand. 

" You are a very thoughtful man, sir." 

" All aboard !" yelled the conductor. " Get 
those lamps lit now." 

Somehow I was glad it was dusk in the car as 
we sprang aboard. Harrod, with quick, eager 
step, went directly to her. Something told her 
he had news, and she rose, throwing back her 
veil, and bent eagerlj' forward. He placed the 
paper in her hand, and, clutching it, she seemed 
to devour the contents. Kitty had turned quickly 
to look. Conversation somehow had ceased. 
Then we saw her glance one instant up in his 
face. Then his strong arms were round her, 
for, burying her face in his breast, she had burst 
into a passion of almost hysterical weeping. 
Then we all turned away and shook hands. The 
whole car knew Vinton was better. One soldier 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 129 

up in front wanted to give three cheers, but was 
promptly suppressed. Kitty's own eyes were 
overflowing as she received the congratulations 
of the lately banquetted, and with a great load 
ofl* our hearts we sped onward through the dark- 
ness. 

Two sweet pictures remain in my memory of 
that strange night. First was that of Miss Sum- 
mers and Major Williams. At her request Har- 
■rod brought him to her, that she might thank 
him for the thoughtfulness, the delicate atten- 
tion he had shown. Her face was exquisite in 
the revival of hope, in the intensity of gratitude. 

The second was about 11 p.m. We had had 
to make some stops. Our run was now less im- 
peded. It had grown chilly and raw. Coming 
in from the front, whither I had gone to smoke 
with the conductor, I found the inmates of the 
rear of our car apparently buried in slumber, 
except one figure. Mr. Turpin, with his blouse 
collar turned up and his hands in his pockets, 
was sitting bolt upright. Two seats behind him, 
her fair hair curling about her rounded cheek, 
sleeping like a babe after all the fatigues and 
excitements of the day, but from neck to foot 
completely enveloped in a cloak of army blue, 
was Kitty Carrington, our rampant little rebel 
Kit. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Early in the morning, earlier even than 1 
had supposed possible, the conductor's voice was 
heard announcing to somebody that we would 
be in New Orleans in less than half an hour. I 
had been sleeping somewhat uneasily, curled up 
on one of the seats. I was dimly conscious of 
the fact that at some unknown hour in the night 
another telegram had been received referring to 
Vinton, and that Miss Summers was wide awake 
when it came. I remember Harrod's bending 
over and kissing her, and hearing the words, 
" That is better yet." Then sleep again over- 
powered me. Now, at daybreak, I arose and 
gazed around the dimly-lighted car. Miss Sum- 
mers, Harrod, and Major Williams were the only 
occupants apparently astir. The former was sit- 
ting near the opened window; the cool, salty 
breeze from the Gulf was playing with the rip- 
ples of fair hair that clustered about her fore- 
head. She looked very white and wan in the 
uncertain light, but there was a womanly ten- 
derness and sweetness about her face that made 
it inexpressibly lovel}^ to me. She was gazing 
wistfully out over the sea of marsh and swamp, 

130 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. I3] 

as though longing to bridge the distance that 
still separated us from the city, where he lay 
battling with that insidious enemy. Harrod and 
the major were in earnest conversation. Other 
occupants of the car were beginning to stir un- 
easily, as though warned that soon they must be 
up and doing ; but Kitty still slept, and the cloak 
of army blue still covered her. Mr. Turpi n had 
disappeared. 

A few moments more and the officers had 
been aroused ; the men were donning their belts 
and equipments; Pauline herself stepped for- 
ward, and, bending over her pretty cousin, 
roused her from her baby-like sleep; and glancing 
from the windows, I could see that we were roll- 
ing up the " Elysian Fields." Then came the 
curving sweep around on the broad levee. All 
looked quiet, even deserted, as we passed the 
Mint and the wide thoroughfare of Esplanade 
Street. Some of the lamps still burned dimly 
in the cafes and bars, but no trace of commotion 
or excitement could be discerned. It was with 
some little surprise then that our eyes met the 
warlike scene as we rolled into the station at the 
foot of Canal Street. 

The instant the train stopped, our car was 
boarded by an alert gentleman in civilian dress 
whom I had often seen, and whom I knew to be 
an aide-de-camp on the staff of the commanding 
general. He came at once to Major Williams; 



132 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

ehook hands with him, and conveyed some orders 
in a low tone of voice ; then asked to be presented 
to Colonel Summers. Major "Williams brought 
him to where our group of four was then stand- 
ing, at the rear of the car, — Miss Summers, Kitty, 
Harrod, and myself. 

" Let me introduce Colonel Newhall, of Gen- 
eral Emory's staff"," he said, and the colonel, 
raising his hat in general salutation to the party, 
spoke in the hurried, nervous way I afterwards 
found was habitual with him, despite the sang- 
froid that distinguished him at all times save in 
the presence of ladies. 

" I have come direct from Major Vinton's room, 
Colonel Summers, and am happy to tell you that 
the doctors pronounce him much better. The 
general charged me to bring you the latest news 
of him, and to express to you and to your ladies 
his warm interest and sympathy." 

Then we had not come as strangers to a strange 
land. I glanced at Pauline, as her brother, 
warmly grasping the staff'-officer's hand, pre- 
sented him to her and to Kitty. Her clear, 
brave eyes were suffiised with tears and she did 
not venture to speak a word ; but she was infi- 
nitely moved by the constantly recurring evi- 
dences of interest in her and her gallant lover. 
Such an informal announcement of an ensfao^e- 
ment perhaps was not strictly in accordance with 
the prevailing customs of society, but the exi- 



KITTY'S CONqVEST. 133 

gencies of the case put all such considerations 
aside. Everybody on our train knew the story of 
course, and it had evidently been telegraphed to 
headquarters. Meantime, Major Williams had 
been superintending the debarkation of his men, 
and they were forming ranks on the platform out- 
side. Beyond them, a long line of stacked arms 
was guarded by sentries, and several companies 
of infantry were grouped behind them, watching 
with professional interest the arrival of comrade 
soldiery. A number of ofiieers had gathered at 
the side of the car, — very weary they looked too, 
and far from jaunty in their dusty fatigue uni- 
forms ; but they were intent on welcoming Major 
Williams and his command, and at that hour in 
the morning, costume and unshaven chins were 
not subject to criticism. Time and again it had 
been my lot to be at this very station, but never 
before had I seen it thronged with troops. It 
was evident that matters of grave moment were 
going on in the city. 

Colonel Newhall had left the car for a moment 
and Harrod came to me : 

" It seems that Vinton is at Colonel Newhall's 
quarters on Eoyal Street, Mr. Brandon. He met 
the troop on its arrival in town, and finding Vin- 
ton wellnigh delirious with fever, had him taken 
at once to his lodgings. There are a number of 
vacant rooms, he tells me, and he has made all 
arrangements to take us right there ; so there we 
12 



134 KITTV'S CONQUEST. 

will go. The St. Charles is crowded, and Pauline 
naturally wants to be near him. I think it the 
best arrangement that could possibly be made." 

Even as he finished, the colonel came in to say 
that the carriage was ready. Harrod, Pauline, 
Kitty and I followed him to the platform. The 
group of officers standing there courteously raised 
their forage-caps as our ladies passed them. Kitty 
looked furtively about her as she stepped from 
the car, and Mr. Turpin sprang forward to take 
her light satchel. It was but a few steps to the 
carriage. Pauline and Kitty were handed in. 
Summers and Colonel Newhall took their seats 
in the carriage. We shook hands all round 
without saying much of anything, except that I 
should meet them later in the day; the driver 
cracked his whip, and away they went up Canal 
Street, Mr. Turpin and I gazing after them. 

Even as we looked, there came trotting down 
the stone pavement towards us a pair of cavalry- 
men. The one in front, tall, slender, erect, I 
recognized at once as Frank Amory. The one 
in rear was evidently his orderly. Never no- 
ticing the carriage, which had hurried off on 
the Custom-House side of the street, the former 
rode rapidly to the very point where we were 
standing. I saw Mr. Turpin look eagerly at 
him, then spring forward. 

" Sheep, old man, how are you ?" 

" Hello, Cyclone ! when did you get here ?" 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 135 

and throwing the reins to his orderly, Frank 
Amory sprang from the saddle, and warmly 
grasped Mr. Turpin by the hand. The boys 
were classmates. 

It was perhaps a minute before Amory noticed 
that I was standing there, so absorbed was he in 
greeting his comrade. The moment he caught 
sight of me, however, he stepped quickly forward. 
Quite a number of the younger officers had gath- 
ered around by this time, and with heightened 
color he looked eagerly in my face. 

" When did you come? Who — who else came?" 
he asked, excitedly. 

" We arrived only a few minutes ago," I said. 
" Miss Summers, Miss Kitty, and the colonel with 
me. They just drove off in that carriage. We 
are so rejoiced to hear Major Yinton is better." 

" You don't say so !" he exclaimed, then stopped 
short, as though at a loss what to add. " I — I 
had no idea she — you could get here so soon. 
Yinton is better, thank God ! Where have they 
gone ?" 

" To Colonel Newhall's quarters," I answered. 
" It seems there are several rooms, and the col- 
onel says his landlady will take the best of care 
of them. Then they will be near him, which is 
something to be considered." 

" Why, Sheep, did you know Colonel Sum- 
mers and Miss Carrington ?" broke in Mr. Tur- 
pin, suddenly. 



136 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

" Yes, quite well. I was stationed near tliem," 
was the answer, given with some constraint. 

Mr. Turpin stuck his hands deep in his pockets 
and said not another word. Other officers crowded 
about Mr. Amory to inquire for Major Vinton, 
and to ask lor news. Presently Major Williams 
came up with Colonel Starr, the commanding 
officer of the battalion that was " in bivouac" at 
the station, and I was presented to the latter. 
From them I learned something of the situa- 
tion. 

They had been on guard all night there at the 
station. What for they could not exactly tell. 
It seems that one faction of the Legislature oc- 
cupied the temporary State-House ; another had 
its headquarters over a prominent bar-room in 
Royal Street; and a large concourse of citizens 
had organized with military formalities and the 
avowed intention of dislodging the factional 
Legislature from the house; installing a Gov- 
ernor of their own choice ; and subduing the 
police force of the city, now enrolled as a uni- 
formed and fully-equipped battalion of infantry, 
with a battery of field-guns and a squadron of 
cavalry as assistants. The police held the vari- 
ous stations, and no encounter had taken place; 
but the citizens had turned out in great numbers, 
and the chances were that they would prove too 
powerful for the mixed array of the police force; 
and trouble had been anticipated for that very 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. I37 

night, but it had not come. A strong battalion 
of infantry was posted here at the railway sta- 
tion. Another, after a day of weary marching, 
was resting at a large cotton-press up the levee; 
two companies of cavalry were stationed at the 
quartermaster's warehouse up in Magazine Street, 
near the headquarters of the commanding gen- 
eral, and two foot batteries from an artillery 
regiment had spent the night in the State-House 
itself. Cavalry patrols had been scouting through 
the city all night, promptly reporting any un- 
usual gathering, but in no case interfering. 
Verily these were strange accompaniments to 
the times of piping peace. 

It was after seven o'clock when I reached my 
rooms. I was tired and ought to have been 
sleepy after the long, rapid ride by rail, but the 
morning papers were full of exciting prophecy as 
to the events of the day, and sleep was out of 
the question. Amory had declined my invita- 
tion to breakfast, saying that he could not be 
away from his troop more than fifteen minutes 
at a time, and had only managed to get down to 
the station while out looking after his patrols. 
A bath and a change of raiment proved refresh- 
ing. Then I took a car ; rode to Canal Street ; 
walked down Royal to Colonel Newhall's lodg- 
ings; met one of the doctors, who assured me 
that Major Yinton was doing very well, and that 
later they hoped he might be well enough to see 
12* 



138 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

Miss Summers. He was still flighty and had no 
idea of his whereabouts. The ladies were up- 
stairs resting. "Would I see them ? No, I pre- 
ferred not to disturb them, and so went off by 
myself to breakfast at my usual haunt, Moreau's. 
The room was already well filled when I entered. 
Most of the tables were occupied, many of them 
by prominent citizens. Much earnest talk was 
going on in subdued tones, and there was an air 
of suppressed excitement that was noticeable to 
the most careless observer. Two of the tables 
were occupied by a party of infantry officers 
whom I had seen at the station, and it was no 
ticeable that within earshot of them little was 
being said in reference to "the situation." I 
had several acquaintances among the business 
men present, and took a seat near them. The 
first words that fell upon my ears were, — 

" And it will be done to-night, you may de- 
pend upon it." 

" But do you suppose that General Emory will 
stand by and allow such a thing to go on under 
his very nose ?" 

" General Emory can't help himself, sir. His 
orders from Washington do not permit him to 
act unless called upon by the marshal or by the 
State authorities. The whole thing will be over 
and done with before they can make their de- 
mand, and our people will have dispersed before 
the troops get there." 



KITTTS CONQUEST. 139 

"But suppose they get wind of it and call upon 
him to station his men to meet the move ?" 

" Why, that ends it, of course. We are help- 
less in that case. We don't mean to raise a finger 
against the general goverriment. Let him send 
a corporal's guard to any one of the places and 
it's safe ; hut as for this infernal mottled po- 
lice " 

" Steady !" 

And then both speakers looked up at the party 
of infantry officers, who had risen and were 
quietly leaving. Then they looked at me, and 
the rest of the conversation was in too low a 
tone for any one to hear. 

The day was one of restless anxiety, yet of 
apparent quiet and order. The broad " ban- 
quette" of Canal Street was thronged with ladies 
and children as is customary on bright after- 
noons. The matinees at the Varieties and the 
St. Charles Theatre were crowded. At half-past 
four, as I strolled up the street under the friendly 
shade of the awnings, that made the wide side- 
walks one long arcade, I was struck by the per- 
fectly peaceful aspect of the scene. From the 
Custom-House to Rampart Street, on the lower 
side of the way, I did not see a policeman, much 
less a soldier in uniform; but at all the cor- 
ners, the knots of unoccupied men were much 
larger than usual; this being especially the case 
around Dumonteil's and Lopez's confectioneries, 



140 KITTF'S CONQUEST 

and the well-known establishment of " Dr. Sam- 
ple." 

On the opposite side and grouped around the 
brown-stone building of the Shakespeare Club, 
half a dozen men in civilian dress were lolling 
about, and less than one hundred yards up Drj- 
ades Street, as many more were sitting or stand- 
ing around the entrance of the massive Mechan- 
ics' Institute, now used as a State-House and 
place of meeting of one at least of the rival 
Legislatures; but there was nothing in its ex- 
terior to indicate the state of siege as described 
in the daily press. In all, there might have been 
one hundred loungers scattered from Victor's 
marble-columned restaurant on the lower side 
down to " Dr. Sample's," in the middle of the 
next block; but absolute quiet and order reigned. 
Some of the windows in the second story of the 
Institute were open, and occasionally the features 
of some colored legislator could be seen peer- 
ing curiously and cautiously out towards Canal 
Street. 

Now that demon of curiosity that has alwayu 
possessed me, prompted me to stroll across the 
broad thoroughfare and to approach the entrance 
of Dryades Street. As a neutral, I felt serenely 
confident that neither side would take exceptions 
to my movements, but looking behind me as I 
reached the car-tracks, I saw that the listless 
loungers on the banquette had crowded forward 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 141 

to its edge, and were watching me with interest. 
Keeping on, however, I soon reached the upper 
side, and deliberately walked ahead as though 
bent on going to the State-House. The instant 
I got beyond the Canal Street pavement, how- 
ever, one of the men I had noticed at the upper 
corner stepped quickly in front of me and said, — 

" Pardon me, Mr. Brandon, where did you 
wish to go ?" Then, seeing my look of surprise, 
he smilingly added, " Of course I know you, sir, 
though you do not know me ; I'm a detective." 

•' Why," said I, " if there be no objections, I 
would like to go to the State-House, just to see 
what is going on." 

" I'm sorry, sir," was the civil reply ; " at this 
moment our orders are to admit nobody." 

Now, I hated to go back. I knew well that 
all those estimable fellow-citizens of mine on the 
other side were watching the scene, and that 
they would be sure to hold me in lighter esti- 
mation if I had to retire. I put a bold face on 
the matter and whipped out my card-case. 

" There are two batteries of foot artillery in 
there, I'm told, and among their officers is a 
gentleman whom I used to know in New York 
and would like to see. Can you send this to 
him?" I hastily scrawled "Late K Y. 7th 
Regt." under my name. The detective took the 
card; whistled to a boy who stood near; the 
youngster seized it and was off like a shot; 



142 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

while my detective and I walked slowly towards 
the building. Before we reached the stone steps, 
a fine-looking fellow in the fatigue uniform of 
the United States artillery came out and looked 
inquiringly around. I stepped forward at once 
and introduced myself; was most courteously 
greeted and invited to walk in; the police official 
smilingly nodded "All right now," and, guided 
by the lieutenant, I entered the mysterious por- 
tals of the besieged halls of government. 

It was an extraordinary sight that met my 
eyes. Grouped inside the vestibule, where they 
could not be seen from Canal Street, or indeed 
from any point on Dryades except directly in 
front, were some fifty Metropolitan police in 
complete uniform and the equipments of infan- 
try soldiers ; belts, cartridge-boxes, bayonet-scab- 
bards, and all. Their officers, with drawn 
swords and weai-ing shoulder-straps like those 
of the regular service, were gathered in front. 
Stacks of Winchester rifles stood close b}^, many 
of the men having their muskets still in their 
hands. All the lower hall and the staircases 
were crowded with these improvised troops, 
some white, some colored, there being white 
men in the rank and file, and colored men 
among the officers. All were very quiet, or- 
derly, and apparently well disciplined. Some 
of those who were seated on the stairway rose 
rather slowly to make way for us, and a colored 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 143 

officer in the shoulder-straps of a captain spoke 
in a quick, sharp tone to them ; and, black and 
white, they sprang to their feet and re^ectfully 
drew aside. At the head of the stairs were sen- 
tries and an officer of the guard, all in police 
uniform, and they saluted my artillery guide 
with all the precision of regulars. 

" Would you like to look in at your Legisla- 
ture?" asked he, with a mischievous grin. I 
assented. The officer of the guard opened a 
door, and we found ourselves in an inner hall or 
vestibule. Here we came upon a dozen colored 
men surrounding a low wooden counter or table 
covered with pies, cakes, sandwiches, and fruit. 
Behind the counter sat an old negress in vehe- 
ment expostulation. 

"It's no use talkin', gen'lemen, you's just 
wastin' yo' time. Las' year I done trus' de gen- 
'lemen of de Senate an' Representives, an' dey 
ain't paid me yit." 

"But fo' de Lawd's sake, Mis' Fontelieu, 1 
ain't had nuffin to eat sence day befu' yis'day 
mawnin', an' I's starvin', I is. Yo' ought ter 
have some consideration fo' gen'lemen of de 
Legislature what's sufferin' here fo' you an' de 
people. Soon's we done git our salaries we's 
goin' to pay you fiis' thing. Ain't we, gen'le- 
men ?" said the spokesman appealingly to his 
brother Solons. 

" Of co'se we is, Mis' Fontelieu," was the 



144 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

chorus, but all to no purpose. ^Miss Fontelieu's 
experiences witli previous Legislatures and legis- 
lators had undermined her faith in the stability 
of their financial condition, and nothing but cash 
in hand would induce her to part with any of 
her stock in trade. 

" I'd buy them a breakfast myself," said my 
lieutenant, laughingly, " for I know very well 
that they have had nothing to eat except what 
they could pick up here ; but we contributed all 
our spare greenbacks yesterday, and they'd be 
just as hungry by ten o'clock to-night." 

"We pushed on through the lobby and entered 
the main room, the temporary hall of representa- 
tives, and here another odd sight greeted our 
eyes. 

The room was large, rectangular in shape ; a 
raised platform being at the farther end; rows 
of cane-bottomed chairs were arranged in semi- 
circular order across the hall ; a desk for the 
presiding officer was on the platform ; and tables 
and desks for clerks and reporters stood below 
it. Scattered in groups all about the room were 
upwards of an hundred men, some white, some 
colored, stretched at length upon the chairs, 
others were lying asleep. The instant we en- 
tered, conversation ceased, and all looked eagerly 
and inquiringly at my companion ; even some 
of the recumbent figures straightened up and 
gazed at him. Several stepped forward from 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 145 

the nearest group and asked if there were any 
news, receiving with evident disappointment hia 
civil reply that he had heard nothing. 

" They have been cooped up here for nearly 
forty-eight hours," the lieutenant explained. 
"You see, they've just got a quorum, and the 
Governor knows blessed well that if they once 
get out, the chances are ten to one they'll never 
get back. Either the other crowd will mob them, 
or, in fear of the attack on the State-House, they 
will keep in hiding somewhere around town." 

The Governor, with his officers, was in hia 
private room down-stairs, my friend explained ; 
and the Senate was likewise blockaded in another 
part of the building ; and this was the shape in 
which one Governor, at least, of the sovereign 
State of Louisiana was " holding the fort" against 
all would-be adversaries. 

Then we left the hall of unwilling representa- 
tives; clambered another flight of stairs, and 
came upon what the local press had not inaptly 
termed " the citadel." Here, in an upper room, 
half a dozen officers of artillery of the regular 
service were killing time, reading, writing, or 
dozing; and most disgusted they looked with 
their occupation. On being presented to the 
commanding officer and his comrades I was cour- 
teously greeted and invited to make myself at 
home, "if," said the major, "you can find any 
comfort in the situation. I've only once in my 

Q k 13 



146 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

life been on more distasteful duty, and that was 
when we were sent to break up illicit distilleries 
in Brooklyn." 

Their orders, I learned, were that both officers 
and men should remain in the State-House, and 
not leave, even for meals, which were to be sent 
from a neighborinaj restaurant; and there they 
had been for two nights and days, in readiness 
to defend the place if attacked, yet having every 
assurance that so long as there remained a " regu- 
lar" soldier in the building it would not be mo- 
lested. 'No wonder they yawned and looked 
bored to death ; and my proffer of services was 
gladly accepted. " Send us anything you may 
have in the way of reading matter, and we'll be 
only too thankful," was the major's half-laughing, 
half-rueful reply, and after an hour's chat I left. 
The lieutenant accompanied me to the entrance, 
where he bade me good-by. The knot of detec- 
tives drew aside and passed me out without re- 
mark. Once more I crossed Canal Street, and 
in an instant found myself surrounded by a bevy 
of eager reporters, note-book and pencil in hand,, 
clamoring for information. From the obscurity 
of yesterday, Mr. G. S. Brandon had suddenly 
leaped into prominence. 



CHAPTER X. 

At nine o'clock that evening I was seated on 
a balcony overhanging Royal Street, quietly chat- 
ting with Miss Summers, Kitty Carrington, and 
Ilarrod. Vinton was much better, the doctors 
had assured us ; the fever was broken ; he had 
recognized Pauline during the afternoon, and 
was now asleep. The doctor had advised her to 
lie down and rest, for, after all her anxiety and 
the excitement of her rapid journey, she was 
looking very white and wan ; but after an hour 
in her room she had again appeared, pleading 
that she could not sleep, and Harrod had led her 
out to the balcony, where we sat enjoying the 
uv^ening air. Colonel Newhall had not returned 
from headquarters. "We saw him for an instant 
at Moreau's, whither Harrod, Kitty, and I had 
gone for dinner, about six o'clock, leaving Pauline 
to share the simple tea offered her by the sympa- 
thetic landlady. He had stopped just long enough 
to say that it was not probable that he would 
be home daring the evening, — he was needed 
at the office, — and then had walked briskly away. 
Coming home we could not help noticing how 
many men there were standing in quiet groups 

U7 



x48 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

about the Claj statue and all along Canal Street ; 
but Royal Street, generally so busy and bustling, 
was strangely quiet, wellnigli deserted. It was 
an exquisite night; the moon was at her full, 
and objects across the narrow thoroughfare were 
almost as distinct as in broad daylight. I could 
easily read the signs over the shops, and distin- 
guish the features of the few people who passed. 
It was very still, too. Oif to our left, towards 
Canal Street, the roar of wheels over the massive 
pavement was to be heard, but few sounds broke 
the stillness near our balcony. Some distance 
down the street a clear, ringing voice was carol- 
ling the page's song from " Mignon" ; across the 
way two or three darkies were chattering in that 
indescribable language that sounds like French, 
}et is no more French than Siamese, the patois 
of the Creole negroes ; but not a wheel or hoof 
awakened the echoes of the compact rOws ot 
old-fashioned houses. 

Our landlady came out and looked uneasily up 
and down. 

" I'm sure I don't know what to make of this," 
said she. " Ordinarily Royal Street is gay in the 
evening. To-night it is still as a cemetery. I 
know something is going to happen. A neighbor 
of mine on Chartres Street, just back of us, says 
that hundreds of men have been going down there 
for the last hour, — going down towards Jackson 
Square, — and they had guns, most all of them." 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 149 

It was just then that somewhere near us a clock 
began striking nine. 

Hardly had the last stroke died, quivering away 
through the still night air, when from the di- 
rection of the great cathedral, opposite the very 
square she named, there came a sudden and 
startling uproar, a rattling volley of small-arms, 
u chorus of yells that made the welkin ring ; then 
a pandemonium of shots, shouts, and yells all 
together. Instantly, people below could be seen 
rushing to close their shutters ; the chattering 
darkies disappeared around the corner, and we 
had sprung to our feet and were listening ex- 
citedly to the clamor, which increased with every 
moment. Pauline quickly stepped in-doors ; her 
first thought was for her lover, and she had gone 
to his door. Kitty, very pale, was grasping the 
balcony rail and looking appealingly up in Har- 
rod's face. He and I gazed questioningly at each 
other. Full a minute we stood there before any 
one spoke. Then Harrod pointed up Royal 
Street. 

" Look ! What is this ?" 

Leaning over the balcony I gazed eagerly up 
towards the white colonnade of the St. Charles, 
glistening and brilliant in the moonlight. Coming 
towards us in perfect silence at rapid, shufiling 
step, with the moonbeams glancing from their 
slophig arms and glistening bayonets, was a 
column of soldiers. Another moment and they 

IS* 



150 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

were directly under us, and with them, drawn 
by horses, was a large field-piece. I recognized 
the uniforms at a glance : they were the police. 
Rapidly, almost at double-quick, they filed under 
the balcony and marched on down the street. 
We followed them with our eyes until they 
turned to the right, some squares farther east, 
and waited further developments. The noise of 
the firing, the shouts and yells had partially died 
away, but not entirely. Suddenly there came a 
renewal of the clangor; the rattling fusilade was 
resumed, then came a volley or two, delivered 
as though by word of command ; then a deafen- 
ing roar that shook the windows. 

"By Jove, Brandon, I can't stand this," said 
Colonel Summers. " I must go and see what it 
means." Then came another tremendous bang. 
*' That's a twelve-pounder !" 

But Kitty and the landlady implored him not 
to go, and as a final compromise the latter agreed 
to guide him through her premises to her neigh- 
bor's house on Chartres Street, where he could 
find out all that was going on without being ex- 
posed to the danger of the street ; and in a few 
moments more we were both, he and I, standing, 
on a balcony that overhung the latter street 
Royal Street had been wellnigh deserted. Char 
tres Street was a scene of excitement and con • 
fusion. Far down to the left we could see the 
flash of small-arms and hear the shouts of th«> 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 151 

excited men. Directly under us, numbers of 
citizens were running, some towards Jaclvson 
Square, where the fighting was going on, others 
towards Canal Street, as though eager to get out 
of the way. A man living in the house had just 
come in, pale and panting, and to our quick in- 
quiries he replied that at nine o'clock a great 
crowd of citizens had suddenly assaulted the 
police station opposite Jackson Square ; had 
whipped out the police and completely gutted 
the building ; that they had things all their own 
way until General Badger suddenly appeared 
with a big gun and a lot of reinforcements, and 
now there was going to be a tremendous fight. 
Crowds of citizens were coming from every direc- 
tion and hemming in the police, and no more 
reinforcements could reach them, said our in- 
formant. 

Even as he spoke, we saw a large body of men 
in civilian garb, but many or most of them armed 
with shot-guns and rifles, coming up Chartres 
Street from the Square. Halting at the corner 
below us, some twenty or thirty of them were 
told off and left there ; the others went on. 
Their leaders spoke in low tones to the people 
they met in the street, and the latter turned 
back as though in implicit obedience. In five 
minutes, except the silent groups of armed men 
at the corner, Chartres Street was as deserted as 
at dawn of day. The firing and noise had ceased. 



152 KITTV'S CONqUEST. 

*' There are crowds going down Custom-House 
Street and the levee," said our still panting friend. 
" These parties are being thrown out in every 
direction to prevent more of the police from 
getting in to help Badger ; then in course of an 
hour we'll have five thousand citizens down 
there around the Square, and if the United 
States troops don't interfere it will be all up 
with the police." 

In eager interest Harrod and I waited. Below 
us the party at the corner had posted two senti- 
nels, who were pacing across the street in most 
approved soldierly fashion. Every now and then 
a distant cheer was heard over towards the levee, 
— fresh bodies of citizens were coming in or 
somebody was making a speech perhaps. Har- 
rod went back to the house to reassure Pauline, 
but speedily returned. Vinton was still sleeping 
quietly, and the doctor was there with the ladies. 
He said it was understood on the street that at 
ten o'clock the citizens were going to resume 
the attack and with every prospect of success. 
Already they had an overwhelming force. 

I looked at my watch. It was just ten minutes 
of ten. Over on the levee the hoarse shouts of 
the crowd could be heard at more frequent in- 
tervals. Far up the street, towards Canal, I 
could see a dense black mass blocking the en- 
trance, evidently a crowd of people drawn thither 
by curiosity, but restrained by a sense of danger 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. I53 

from coming farther towards the scene of action. 
The sentries still paced the streets at the corners 
above and below us. Two squares farther down 
towards the cathedral we could see the other sen- 
tries pacing to and fro. " Those are the police 
pickets," said our previous informant; "just 
wait five minutes and you'll see them skip." 

. Again I nervously looked at my watch. I 
was trembling with suppressed excitement. The 
police station was only four squares away to our 
left. I thought I could see the moonbeams 
gleaming on the big gun that our friend and 
fellow-citizen said the police had run out in the 
middle of the street and pointed towards the 
levee. 

Suddenly there came a racket towards Canal 
Street. We all leaned over the balcony and 
gazed eagerly in that direction. A single black 
shadow came swiftly down the middle of the 
street. "We heard the loud clatter of iron-shod 
hoofs on the stone-block pavement. A horseman 
riding at full gallop came flashing through the 
moonlight. " Who comes there ?" shouted the 
sentries above us. "Don't stop him!" yelled 
some authoritative voice as the horseman, never 
heeding either challenge or rebuke, thundered 
along almost at racing speed. As he sped under 
the balcony I did not need to see the glittering 
aiguillettes and shoulder-knots, or hear the clank 
of the cavalry sabre, to recognize the youngest 



154 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

of the general's aides-de-camp. Again he was 
challenged at the lower corner, and some excit- 
able party in the crowd fired a gun. Mj nerves 
jumped in quick response, but on went the 
officer. Then we heard shouts farther down and 
two more shots, this time from the police, and 
then Harrod grabbed my arm. 

" Come on ; let's go and see it. I can't stand 
this." And leading the way he plunged down 
the stairs, I following. 

" You can't get through there, gentlemen," 
said the leader of the party below us ; " the police 
hold the street below." So we headed for the 
levee, two squares away ; found a surging crowd 
there, but, half running, half walking, we pushed 
ahead, speedily finding ourselves at the outskirts 
of a great throng of men spreading out over the 
broad levee towards Jackson Square. Under 
the gas-lamp at the corner, now surrounded by 
a dense throng, we could see the aide-de-camp, 
seated on his panting horse and in animated con- 
versation with some of the citizens nearest him. 
I had met the young officer and knew him 
slightly, and was eager to hear what he might 
say, but it was impossible to get nearer. In a 
moment, however, he turned away and rode back 
towards the police station. A tall, gray-headed 
gentleman, of soldierly bearing and address, 
stepped upon a box or barrel and spoke briefly 
to the crowd, — 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 155 

" Gentlemen, — General Emory sends word that 
in compliance with his orders the United States 
troops are now marching to the defence of the 
police. There is nothing further for us to do. 
You will therefore disperse." 

And without a word, in perfect quiet and order, 
the crowd began to break up and move off up 
and down the levee. Curious as usual to see all 
there was to be seen, I suggested to Harrod that 
we should go to the station. He assented, and 
we elbowed our way through the crowd ; reached 
the street that runs along the upper side of the 
Square from the levee to Chartres Street ; found 
it utterly deserted, and so, rapidly pushed ahead. 
Presently we drew near enough to see that the 
head of the street was occupied by the cannon 
and its detachment, and a company of police. 
The next instant, half a dozen bayonets came 
flashing down upon us. "We were surrounded 
by a squad of men under command of a darky 
sergeant, and with loud summons to surrender, 
and much excited adjuration not to resist if we 
didn't want want our heads blown oflT, Colonel 
Summers and myself were roughly seized and 
hustled towards the station. 

" Here's two of the d — d scoundrels anyway," 
was our introduction to the men in the ranks as 
we were hurried along, and my very vehement 
protestations were lost amid the chorus of jeera 
with which we were greeted. Already we were 



156 KITTY'S coNquEsr. 

within a few yards of the station-house door, 
when I caught sight of the aide-de-camp talking 
with the chief of police. I shouted his name, 
despite the savage order from my captors to shut 
my mouth if I didn't want to be killed, and in- 
stantly he recognized me, sprang forward, and 
ordered the police to stand back, which they 
sulkil}'- did. I breathlessly introduced Colonel 
Summers, and he too was freed from the rude 
grasp of the two stalwart " peelers" who held 
him. Then the chief came up. Explanations 
followed, and despite my indignation we had a 
general laugh. 

" My men are somewhat nervous to-night," 
said he, apologetically. " Even the full uniform 
of the captain here did not protect him, you see ; 
the pickets up the street fired at him as he came 
to the rescue, but I will send a sergeant with you 
to see you safely through the lines." So after 
taking a look at the demolished station-house, 
we were courteously escorted up Chartres Street, 
and in a few minutes we were laughingly telling 
our adventures to the ladies on our gallery. 

Even as Harrod was in the midst of the recital, 
there was heard the rapid tramp of many hoofs 
up the street, and a troop of cavalry came sweep- 
ing down at rapid trot. "Well out to the front, 
followed by his trumpeter, rode a tall, slender 
young officer, whose form was now familiar to 
us all. He glanced up at our balcony as he passed 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. I57 

beneath us, the moonlight shining full in his 
brave young face. Pauline waved her handker- 
chief ; a gauntleted hand returned the salute ; 
and with Kitty's eyes furtively following him 
Frank Amory ewept by. 



CHAPTER XI. 

Later in the night, after the ladies had re- 
tired, Harrod and I once more walked down to 
the square to see how things were going on. 
All was very quiet. A battalion of regular in- 
fantry had stacked its arms in the middle of the 
street in front of the dismantled station-house ; 
the men were seated along the curbstone ; some 
in their weariness were lying asleep upon the 
stone pavement ; the otiicers, grouped under the 
archways of the old police court on the other 
side of the street, were puffing their cigarettes 
and sleepily discussing the situation. Major 
Williams and his command were not there; the 
battalion on duty was one which had been for 
some time past stationed at Jackson Barracks 
below the city. A little farther down we came 
upon Amory and his troop making a night of it 
in front of the Cathedral. The horses were still 
saddled, though with loosened girths, but had 
been unbitted, and were busily munching at the 
hay spread before them on the pavement. Mars 
himself was seated on the curbstone with a grain- 
sack in his lap, petting his horse's head as that 
quadruped blissfully devoured the oats with 

158 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 159 

whicli his thoughtful master had heaped the 
sack. Harrod hailed him gleefully. 

" That takes a fellow back to old times, lad, 
only oats were scarcer than horses." 

Mars held out his unoccupied hand, looking 
up with rather a tired smile on his face. 

" How's Vinton ?" he asked. 

" Very much better, we think," said Harrod, 
" though he is very weak, and has had an ugly 
siege. I think he will be housed some time 
yet." 

" Did you see — did you happen to hear of any 
letter for me at Sandbrook before you came 
away ? I told them to forward everything, but 
nothing has come." 

" No," replied Harrod. " Had there been 
anything I think they would have told us, 
though it may be that letters were simply re- 
directed and dropped in the Corinth mail." 

There was so much anxiety in Amory's face 
that it suddenly occurred to me to ask, " Your 
mother is not ill, I hope ? You have heard from 
her?" 

"Mother is quite well, thanks. I had tele- 
graphed her of our move, and a letter reached 
me yesterday. This was — I rather expected an- 
other letter." And even in the pale moonlight 
it was plain that Mr. Amory was blushing vividly. 
Instantly I was reminded of the letter he had 
received at camp, and received with such evident 



160 KITTV'S CONQUEST. 

excitement. Was it from that source lie now 
looked for another ? If so, what did it mean ? 
Mars was getting to be a mystery. 

*' When are you coming to see us ?" asked the 
colonel. 

" I don't know. I'd like to come at once, but 
you see how I'm fixed, — the only officer with the 
troop." 

" Well, if all should be quiet to-morrow, come 
and dine with us at Moreau's at six, will you ?" 
persisted Harrod. " There will be no one but 
ourselves and the ladies, you know ; and if you 
are pressed for time just meet us there. We'll 
expect you." 

"I would be delighted to," answered the young 
fellow, though in a strangely embarrassed and 
hesitating way, " but I really cannot promise. 
You see how it is, don't you?" he continued, 
looking almost appealingly at me ; but I chose 
not to " see how it was," and only insisted on 
seconding Harrod's invitation. All the old Adam 
in me was wild with curiosity to see him with 
Kitty once more, and his reluctance or hesitancy 
was something that only served to make me 
more persistent. Have you never noticed that 
amiable trait in many a man or woman who, 
having passed the meridian of life him- or her- 
self, seems bent on directing in the most trivial 
matters the plans and movements of younger 
persons ? It was no earthly business of mine, 



KITTY'S CONqUEST. \Ql 

and yet I was determined to have Mars come 
and see Kitty whether he wanted to or not 
Harrod, of course, was actua ed by no such 
motives. 

Early on the following day, on going to my 
office, the few letters deposited on the desk were 
naturally the first things to be disposed of. Al- 
most wearily I glanced at the superscriptions, 
for nobody in New Orleans felt particularly 
business-like that morning. Some were from 
correspondents up the railway; others from 
" down the coast." I simply glanced at their 
envelopes, and had just about completed the 
list, when suddenly hand and eye rested upon 
a dainty little missive, an envelope of creamy 
white, and addressed to me — to me in the very 
handwriting that had so attracted my attention 
and curiosity in Amory's tent at Sandbrook. 
Here was the same exquisite chirography. I 
knew I had seen it before. I knew now why it 
seemed so familiar then. For six years or there- 
abouts it had not fallen under my gaze; and 
when it did, six years before, it was only that a 
proud papa might exhibit to me the beautiful 
writing of his daughter, then in her last year at 
school in New York City, the youngest child of 
a sister lung since dead. It was the handwriting 
of my pretty niece, Bella Grayson, — Bella, whom 
I had not seen since her girlhood, and all at 
once it flashed across my perturbed brain that 

I 14* 



162 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

Frank Amory's mysterious correspondent was 
this self-same Bella. Here was a revelation in- 
deed! 

For some minutes I was too much confounded 
to open the letter. Then I proceeded to read it. 
A very bright, graceful, well-expressed note it 
proved to be. Uncle George was appropriately 
reminded that it was more than two years since 
he had written to papa. Papa did not propose 
to write again until his letters were answered ; 
but, feeling a trifle uneasy while reading the ac- 
counts of the stormy times in New Orleans, and 
having seen occasional mention of Uncle George 
in connection with Ku-Klux excitements, she had 
been commissioned to make inquiries as to Uncle 
George's health and fortunes, to express the 
hope that Uncle George would no longer neglect 
them as he had, and to subscribe herself very 
affectionately. Uncle George's niece, Bella. 

So far 80 good. Uncle George had very vivid 
recollections of Miss Bella in her graduating 
years, and had been vastly impressed by the 
vivacity, wit, and sparkle of the bright little lady 
who made his last visit to her father's home so 
pleasant a thing to look back upon. From that 
time to this he had never seen her, but never had 
she been entirely dropped from his remembrance. 
For four years or so he had occasionally occupied 
himself in the metaphorical selection of an ap- 
propriate wedding-present, as home letters gave 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 163 

indications tliat Miss Bella was contemplating 
matrimony; but it never seemed to pass tlie 
point of contemplation. Twice at least, on 
authoritative announcements, Miss Bella had 
been " engaged." A dozen times at least, if re- 
ports were to be relied upon. Miss Bella was on 
the verge of that social entanglement. It wa? 
in the winter of '65 that she had first begun to 
exercise that involuntary gift of fascination over 
Uncle George which seemed to involve him, as 
it did all masculines who came within the sphere 
of her movements. I say involuntary, because 
then and ever afterwards. Miss Bella was wont 
to protest that she was no more conscious of any 
effort or desire to attract than she was of breath- 
ing when asleep. She had spent some months 
of the preceding summer and autumn at "West 
Point. She was petite, graceful, not absolutely 
a beauty, yet there was something about those 
large, clear, heavily-lashed gray eyes of hers that 
had all the effect and power of beauty ; and even 
when only eighteen, as she was then. Miss Bella 
had learned their influence, and, involuntarily of 
course, how to use them. I had not been a wit- 
ness of the campaign itself, but I could not live 
in their cosey home in the city for a week without 
becoming measurably aware of its results. The 
postman's visits to the Grayson residence were as 
regular as his rounds, and it often happened that 
letters deposited on the hall-table were left there 



1(54 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

some hours, awaiting Miss Bella's return from 
calls or drives or strolls with her society friends 
of both sexes, and that I, in search of ray own 
mail, should look over the pile on the marble 
slab. There was always one postmarked West 
Point; there was sometimes more; and there 
were no less than three separate and distinct 
handwritings thus making frequent calls at our 
house. In my avuncular capacity I had ventured 
to say something intended to be arch with regard 
to those letters. It was at the breakfast-table. 
Miss Bella was pouring coffee, and doing it with 
a deft and graceful turn of the wrist that showed 
her slender white hand to vast advantage. For 
all answer she had given me one of those search- 
ing glances from under the deep lids ; looked me 
squarely in the face, though a merry smile was 
hovering about the corners of her rosy mouth ; 
and, neither admitting nor denying the corre- 
spondence, had disarmed me by a prompt inquiry 
as to whether I really thought it improper for her 
to hear from her cadet friends. 

No one could ever call it a correspondence, for 
no one ever saw Miss Bella writing, or heard of 
her mailing letters to West Point or anywhere 
else. Between her and her devoted papa the 
closest sympath}' and alliance existed. He seemed 
to take a jovial delight in Bella's fascinations. 
She ruled him with a winning and imperious 
sway that was delicious to see, and Uncle George 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. I(j5 

speedily fell into the same groove, with this 
difference : she may have told her father who 
her correspondents were ; she never did tell 
Uncle George. What was more, Uncle George 
never could find out. Despite several efforts to 
win the young lady's confidence in his somewhat 
bulky and blundering way. Uncle George had 
had to give it up. She was impenetrable as a 
sphinx. 

And now, six years afterwards, here she reap- 
peared in his life; and, if Uncle George was 
not very much mistaken. Miss Bella was the 
correspondent whose letter had caused Frank 
Amory so much excitement and emotion that 
last day in camp at Sandbrook. It was her letter 
he was so eagerly awaiting now. And all this 
time 

"Well. To the neglect of other letters I sat at 
the desk pondering over this maidenly missive ; 
then with an eflbrt refolded and was about to 
close it, when my eyes were attracted by some 
lines on the outer page. Who was it who first 
said that the gist of a woman's letter would al- 
ways be found in the postscript ? There, on page 
four of the tiny note-sheet, were the words : 

" P. S. — So you have met Mr. Amory of the 
cavalry, and j^ou had quite an exciting adventure, 
too. Should you see him again pray remember 
me to him, though it is quite possible he has 



166 KITTF'S CONQDEST. 

forgotten me. We were good friends during liis 
' first class camp.' " 

Oil, Bella Grayson ! " Pray remember me to 
liim," indeed ! " Quite possible he has forgotten 
me." Upon my word, young lady, this is too 
much even for a long-suffering uncle. Asking 
me to remember her to a young fellow with 
whom she was actually in correspondence at the 
time ! For a moment I was fairly indignant ; but 
something of the witchery of Bella's own caress- 
ins; voice and manner seemed to steal from the 
folds of the tiny note. A dozen things that had 
been told me of her from time to time came 
floating back to my brain, and — I couldn't help 
it — I began to laugh. 

Once, just before his coming South, Miss Bella 
had appeared before Uncle George in a state of 
indignation. A young man whom he rather 
liked had been one of her devotees for a month 
or more, and then suddenly ceased his attentions. 
Bella's eyes flashed as she half reluctantly re- 
lated to Uncle George (in response to his urgent 
request) the circumstances which led to the sud- 
den break. " He dared to say to me that, if no 
more attractive subject happened to be available, 
it was his belief I would flirt with a chimney- 
sweep !" and then, when Uncle George burst 
into a fit of uncontrollable merriment, Miss 
Bella had first flushed with indignation, then 



KITTY'S CONQUEST, IQ'J 

her irresistible sense of the humorous began to 
get the better of her resolution to be deeply 
offended, and presently she laughed too; laughed 
till the tears ran down her cheeks ; laughed as 
only Bella could laugh, the most musical, ring- 
ing, delightful laugh ever heard ; and then, sud- 
denly recollecting herself, she had pronounced 
Uncle George an unfeeling wretch, and flounced 
out of the room in high dudgeon. 

N"ow, it is contrar}^ to all principles of story- 
telling to introduce an utterly new character 
towards the fag end of a narrative, but Mr. 
Brandon makes no pretensions to being a story- 
teller. He -can only relate things as they hap- 
pened ; and never, until this stage of the game, 
had his fair niece Bella appeared as a factor in 
the plot so far as his knowledge went. Never- 
theless, it was vividly apparent to Mr. Brandon 
that now at least she was destined to become a 
leading lady, a power behind the throne, whether 
she appeared in person upon the boards or not. 
He recalled the frequent allusions to her in the 
letters that used to reach him from the North in 
the days when he found time to keep up corre- 
spondence with the scattered family. There was 
a tone of almost tragic despair in the letters of 
one of her aunts whenever Bella was the subject 
under discussion. Wherever she went — and she 
went pretty much everywhere — Miss Grayson 
was the centre of a knot of admirers. Her sum- 



168 KITTY'S CON QUEST. 

mers were spent at West Point or on " the 
Sound;" her winters in New York or Syracuse; 
and the oddest thing about it all was that, de- 
spite her great attractiveness among the heaus 
of society, she retained an absolute dominion 
over the hearts of a little coterie of schoolmates, 
— a sextette of as bright and intelligent and at- 
tractive girls as Uncle George had ever seen ; 
two of them undoubted beauties ; all of them 
gracious and winning; yet, as though by com- 
mon and tacit understanding, when Bella ap- 
peared in their midst, and the men concentrated 
their attentions upon her, the others contentedly, 
even approvingly, so it seemed, fell into the back- 
ground. They had their own personal worship- 
pers, to be sure, but they were paraded for Bella's 
inspection and approval before being decided 
upon. Two of the sisterhood married within a 
few years of their graduation after receiving 
Bella's sanction. It had even been alleged that, 
involuntarily as usual, Bella had diverted the 
growing admiration of one youth from a sister 
to herself; but the unruffled sweetness of the 
sisterly relations seemed to give the lie to that 
statement. 

But Bella's fascinations were not so placidly 
accepted with the opposite sex. It had been a 
pet theory of hers that cadets and officers were 
fair game for flirtation d, Voutrance. She had 
become involved in her very first visit to the 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 169 

Academy in two very serious affairs ; retaining 
complete mastery over her own susceptibilities, 
while obtaining mastery as complete over those 
of two cadet admirers who chanced to be rather 
close friends. One of them, at least, had been 
desperately in earnest at the outset; both of them 
were before they got through; and Bella was, 
or professed to be, totally incapable of believing 
that they had intended more than a mere flirta- 
tion. To her credit be it said, she was griev- 
ously distressed when the actual truth came to 
light; but her theories were in nowise shaken, 
for with the following year a still more desperate 
victim was at her feet, while the singed moths 
of the previous season looked gloomily and sar- 
donically on the throes which they had so re- 
cently suffered. It was an attribute of Bella's 
as marvellous as the ascendency she maintained 
over her sisterhood, that even in jilting an ad- 
mirer she had so sweet, sympathetic, caressing, 
and self-reproachful a manner as to make the 
poor devil feel that the whole thing was his own 
fault, or that of his blindness ; and to send him 
on his way comforted, perhaps enslaved. She 
never could succeed in absolutely and definitely 
disposing of a lover. New ones might come, 
and did come, every season of the year. She 
had them wherever she moved ; but Bella could 
no more let one go than a cat could a captured 
mouse, — another statement at her expense that 

H 15 



170 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

first excited her wrath and afterwards nearly 
convulsed her by its humorous accuracy. She 
would turn her back on him ; lose sight of him 
to all appearances; but let him but display a 
desire for freedom ; let him but make an effort 
to get away from the toils ; and under the paite 
de velours was an inflexible grasp that once more 
stretched the victim panting at her feet. 

And yet she was so winning, so plaintive, so 
appealing with it all ! Volumes of pity and trust 
and sympathy beamed from Bella's clear gray 
eyes. Volumes of half-playful reproach and con- 
dolence in the letters she would write. " Even 
in bidding you go she implores you to stay," was 
once said of her by an exasperated yet enthralled 
victim, and Uncle George was quite ready to 
believe it. 

And Bella was still unmarried; still careering 
over the old preserves ; still maintaining, appa- 
rently, her old theory that " men are deceivers 
ever;" and still, to judge from recent develop- 
ments, bringing down fresh victims among the 
too inflammable youngsters of the battalion of 
cadets. Now, was Frank Amory a victim in 
good earnest, or only a narrow escape from being 
one ? She wrote to him, but that proved nothing: 
she wrote to a dozen, and all at the same time. 
Aunt Ethel declared of her that she was writing 
to two classmates an entire winter, receiving al- 
most daily missives from both, and responding 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 171 

when she felt disposed ; and that not until they 
came to be stationed at the same post ; to occupy 
the same quarters ; to make the simultaneous 
discovery that each had parted with his class 
ring; and, one never-to-be-forgotten day, that 
each was receiving letters from the same damsel; 
had either of the young fellows the faintest idea 
that he was not the sole possessor of such atten- 
tions. It was alleged of Bella that she could 
have worn a class ring on every finger if she 
chose; but whatever may have been her object 
in accepting them, it was not for purposes of 
self-glorification. Her most intimate friend never 
knew whose rings she had; never knew how 
many; and Bella's flirtations, whatever may have 
been the wide-spread destruction she effected, 
were subjects that never could be spoken of in 
her presence. A dozen men were believed to 
confide in her, and she held their confidence in- 
violable. No one of them ever extracted from 
her the faintest admission that she ever received 
a line or an attention from any one else. 

Now, what in the world was I to do ? Here 
was a complication that baffled me completely. 
If Mars were really smitten with my fascinating 
niece, how far had it gone ? That he had been 
I could readily believe ; but, whether she looked 
it or not, Bella must now be older than he, and 
probably had only been — involuntarily, as usual 
— amusing herself with his devotions. And now 



172 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

he was interested in Kitty, — of that I felt cer- 
tain, — and, by Jove ! I had it. He felt himself 
still bound by the old ties ; still fettered by some 
real or imaginary allegiance to his West Point 
afl5nity; still — " Wliy, the whole thing was plain 
as A, B, C," thought I, in my masculine pro- 
fundity. "Bella would not accept, could not 
discard him, and here she has kept him dangling 
at her beck and call ever since." I decided to 
write to Bella, — oh, the bewildering idiocy of 
some men ! — and I wrote forthwith. 

That evening a letter winding up as follows 
was on its way northward : 

" Yes, I have met your friend, young Amory ; 
have seen a good deal of him, in fact, and am 
greatly interested in him. He strikes me as a 
gallant young soldier and gentleman, and his 
evident admiration for a fair young friend of 
mine — an heiress, by the way — commands my 
entire sympathy. I've half a mind to take you 
into my confidence, Bella, for perhaps you can 
dispel my perplexity. I think — mind you, I only 
say I think — that the young people are quite ready 
to fall in love with one another. They have been 
thrown together under most romantic circum- 
stances, but he has behaved very oddly of late, 
and I could not but indulge in some theory as to 
the cause. I have learned that he has some 
young lady correspondent up North, and, know- 
ing what susceptible fellows cadets are (from 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 173 

your own statements), it has occurred to me that 
he may have gotten into some entanglement 
there from which he would now gladly escape. 
Now, Bella, put on your thinking-cap. You 
have heen there every summer for six or eight 
years (oh !), and although much above cadets 
now I fancy, you still retain your old ascendency 
over the sex. You knew Amory well, probably, 
and possibly he has made you a confidante of his 
affairs. What young girl was there to whom he 
was devoted ? Perhaps you and I can help him 
out of his boyish folly and into something that 
ia worth having." 
"Was there ever such a colossal ass ? 



CHAPTER XII. 

That evening we dined at Moreaii's. Things 
had quieted down in the city, though the troops 
still remained on duty in the streets; and it was 
with eager anticipation of meeting Frank Araory 
that I wended my way to the tidy old restaurant 
with its sanded floor, its glittering array of little 
tables, and the ever-attentive waiters. Colonel 
Summers and his party had not yet arrived. 
Would Monsieur step up to the room and wait 
their \3oming? Monsieur would; and, taking 
the Evening Picayune to while away the time, Mr. 
Brandon seated himself on the balcony overlook- 
ing Canal Street, — busy, bustling, thronged as 
usual; yet bustling in the languid, Latinized 
sense of the term ; bustling in a way too unlike 
our Northern business centres to justify the use 
of the term. No sign of disorder or turmoil was 
manifest. The banquettes on both sides were 
covered with ladies and children ; the street-cars 
on the esplanade were filled with passengers 
going in every direction ; the booths, fruit-stands, 
confectioneries were all doing a thriving busi- 
ness ; the newsboys were scurrying to and fro in 
their picturesque tatters screaming the head-lines 
174 



KITTYS CONQUEST. 175 

of thoir evening bulletins ; carriages and cabri- 
olets were rattling to and fro; the setting sun 
shone hot on the glaring fa9ade of the stone 
Custom-House down the street; and beyond, 
across the crowded and dusty levee, dense vol- 
umes of black smoke were rising from the tow- 
ering chimneys of the boats even now pushing 
from the shore and ploughing huskily up the 
stream. All spoke of business activity and lively 
trade. The mercurial spirit of the populace 
seemed to have subsided to the normal level; 
and the riot of yesterday was a thing of the dis- 
tant past. 

Voices on the stairs called me into the cosey 
room, and Kitty entered radiant; with her — not 
Mars but Mr. Turpin; behind her, Colonel Sum- 
mers and the doctor. Pauline had again decided 
to remain and take tea with the landlady, but 
Vinton was improving, said Harrod, who in- 
stantly added an inquiry for Amory. 

" He has not been here, nor have I seen hira 
to-day. Have you, Mr. Turpin ?" I asked. 

"No, sir. Amory and his troop were sent 
up to Jeffersonville at noon, so I learned at 
headquarters, and they have not come back 
since." 

" Then we must go on without him," said 
Harrod, and dinner was ordered forthwith. 

Seated by Kitty's side, Mr. Turpin was soon 
absorbed in the duty of making himself agree- 



176 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

able. Evidently they had been talking of Amory 
before coming in, and, whether piqued at the 
latter's conduct in not yet having been to see 
her, or worse, at his having been there to in- 
quire for Vinton and not for her, Kitty was in 
the very mood to render her new admirer's at- 
tentions acceptable. She was sparkling with 
animation. She was listening wath flattering 
eagerness to everything he said, laughing mer- 
rily at every sally ; urging him to tell more of 
his cadet days and army life ; paying no heed to 
any of the rest of us ; plainly, only too plainly, 
bent on fascinating her infantry friend, and fas- 
cination it plainly was. Mr. Turpin was head 
over heels in love with her before dinner was 
half over; and while we oldsters were discussing 
our cigars and pousse cafi on the balcony after 
that repast, they were seated on the sofa mer- 
rily, intently chatting together, as firm friends 
as though they had known one another from 
childhood. So intent that my entrance for a 
match in nowise disturbed them ; so utterly in- 
tent that they never saw what I saw at once, — 
Frank Amory standing at the door. 

To my eager Avelcome he responded absently. 
Turpin sprang up and held out his hand, which 
was taken in a perfunctory sort of way, but 
there was no heartiness in his reply to the cor- 
dial greeting of his classmate. He bowed in a 
constrained manner to Kitty, who had flushed 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 177 

with surprise — ^possibly some other emotion — 
when she caught sight of him ; and then with- 
out further notice of either her or her com- 
panion, he passed on to where Harrod was 
standing at the open window, and eagerly in- 
quired for Vinton, but his bearing was forced 
and unnaturaL He had already dined, he said, 
and had been unable to get back from Jeiferson- 
ville with the troop until late, too late to accept 
Colonel Summers's invitation ; so he had merely 
dropped in to inquire after his captain, as he 
thought we would still be here ; and now, he 
said, he must hasten to the warehouse on Maga- 
zine Street, as there was no telling how soon he 
and his men might be needed again. "VVe urged 
him to stay and make one of a party to go to the 
theatre, but Mars was adamant. His refusal was 
even curt. " Pray make my excuses and apolo- 
gies to the ladies. Til go down through the 
hall," were his parting words. And so, without 
even having touched Kitty's hand or spoken a 
sentence to her by way of welcome, Mr. Amory 
took his leave. 

Was he " miffed" because he had found Turpin 
in happy tete-a-tete with her? Had he hoped to 
reserve that happiness to himself; or was there 
some deeper reason to account for his avoidance 
of her ? Kitty evidently adopted the first-men- 
tioned explanation of his conduct; ascribed his 
cold salutation and sudden departure to jealousy, 



178 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

— absolute jealousy, — and I am bound to say 
that so far from being depressed or saddened by 
bis conduct she seemed to derive additional in- 
spiration or stimulant. A burning color bad 
mounted to her cheeks ; ber eyes bad taken an 
almost defiant sparkle; her coquetry with Turpin 
became more marked than before ; and, as 
though elated at the betrayal of Amory's feel- 
ings, and excited by the exhibition of his 
jealousy, sbe seemed in extraordinary spirits. 
Turpin promptly accepted the invitation to go 
to the theatre, provided he could obtain Major 
Williams's permission to be absent from the 
battalion during the evening, and went ofi* to 
see about it forthwith, agreeing to join us at the 
Royal Street lodgings in fifteen minutes. lu 
less than fifteen minutes we were there. Kitty 
ran blithely up-stairs to see Pauline, and then 
Harrod turned to me. 

" Brandon, did you notice anything wrong 
with Amory to-night ?" he asked, anxiously. 

" He was excited, perhaps upset, at seeing 
Turpin where he was ; but why do you ask ?" 

" It was something more than that, I fear. Did 
you notice his eyes, his color ? Did you feel his 
band?" 

" He was flushed, I noticed, and I thought it 
due to riding all day in the sun ; but his hand 
I did not touch." 

" It was burning as though with fever. Can 



KITTYS CONQUEST. 179 

he have been seized as Vinton was ?" said the 
colonel. And for a moment we looked at one 
another in silence. " You know he has been up 
and around now for several nights, and exposed 
all day to the heat of the sun. The extremes are 
dangerous to those not accustomed to our Louisi- 
ana climate, and if he had contracted any dis- 
order this would bring it out. Here comes Mr. 
Turpin," continued the colonel. "Let us ask 
him what he observed." 

Turpin joined us with his quick, springy step. 
" The major says I may go," he spoke blithelj^ ; 
" but is not Amory coming?" 

" It was of Amory we wanted to ask you," said 
Harrod. " He seemed very unlike himself tho 
few minutes he was at Moreau's. Did you note 
anything out of the way ?" 

Turpin flushed. " Why — yes," said he, hesi- 
tatingly. " He seemed a little queer — a good 
deal stiff" and formal and " 

"But as to his health. Do you think he is 
well ?" 

" Wliy," said Turpin, with a sudden start, " I 
had not thought of that. I ascribed his manner 
to — to — well, he always was a quick, impulsive 
fellow, and I thought perhaps he regarded me 
as being in the way; but his hand was hot, — 
hot as fire. I'm ashamed I did not think of it 
before." 

And then he stopped short, for Kitty re- 



180 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

entered. She walked smilingly up to Mr. Tur- 
pin with extended hand. 

" You can go ?" she said. " I'm so glad. How 
soon must we start? Pauline is comins: down a 
moment." And with Pauline's coming we forgot 
for the time being our talk about Amory. 

Very gentle, very lovely, looked Miss Sum- 
mers as she stood answering our warm inquiries 
about the major. He was so much better ; was 
sleeping quietly and naturally, the nurse said ; 
and the doctor was so delighted with the improve- 
ment, and had let her sit for a while by the bed- 
side and talk to him, though the major himself 
was forbidden to talk. She was so glad we were 
going to the theatre. It must be wearisome 
staying around the house for us, though she 
could not bear to go. And so we bade her good- 
night and went on our way. 

The Varieties was crowded that night, and an 
admirable play was on the stage ; but my thoughts 
were incessantly wandering back to Mars, to his 
strange behavior, and to Bella Grayson and her 
possible connection with his changed manner. 
Then, too, I was worried about Harrod's theory, — 
that the boy was ill. All things considered, I 
could pay very little attention to what was going 
on, either in the audience or on the stage. Our 
seats were in the front row of the dress-circle, a 
little to the right of the centre of the house ; and 
during tlie intermission between the first and 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. Igl 

Becond acts Kitty and Turpiu bad been keeping 
up an incessant cbatter, tbougb so low-toned and 
semi-confidential tbat I beard notbing of wbat 
was said. Tbe bouse was very full, as I say, and 
many gentlemen were standing in tbe side aisles 
over tbe proscenium boxes. Otbers were swarm- 
ing about tbe outer row of dress-circle seats. 
Otbers still were seated on tbe steps leading down 
into tbe parquet. Tbe curtain rose upon tbe 
second act, and Kitty, sitting next to me, witb 
Turpin on ber otber side, drew back and glanced 
one minute up in my face. All animation, life, 
sparkle, and saucy triumpb sbe looked ; tbere 
was a miscbievous cballenge in ber laugbing eyes 
as tbey met mine, tben wandered off" to tbe stage. 
Anotber moment and I turned to ber to wbisper 
some comment upon tbe costume w^orn by one of 
tbe actresses and — bow can I describe tbe cbange 
tbat bad come over ber face ? Pale, startled, yes, 
frigbtened. Sbe was staring across tbe parquet 
towards a group of men standing in tbe outer 
aisle. Following ber eyes I too looked, and 
tbere, glaring at our party, witb a strange, wild, 
uncanny expression on bis face, was Frank 
Amory, 

For an instant notbing was said. Tben, invol- 
untarily, I balf rose. His eyes met mine, and, 
witbout a sign of recognition, be dropped back 
in tbe tbrong and disappeared. " Did you see 
him ?" I exclaimed to Harrod. " "Watcb ! See 

16 



182 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

where he goes ! It is Amorj, and something i& 
wrong." 

The colonel looked at me in startled wonder- 
ment, but a glance at Kitty's face seemed to bring 
him coniirmation of my statement. I rose and 
looked about in my excitement and anxiety, but 
an indignant " Down in front !" from some half- 
dozen mouths in rear brought me back to seat 
and senses. Not until the close of the act could 
I get out. Then, followed by Harrod, I worked 
my way into the vestibule, searched the corridors, 
the bar-room, the main stairway, and the broad 
entrance. No sign of him. Several infantry 
officers were standing there, but, in answer to 
my appeal, said they had seen nothing of Lieu- 
tenant Amory ; but at the gate the door-keeper 
remembered a young officer going out in the 
middle of the second act and declinins; a return 
check. I determined to go at once to his lodg- 
ings. Harrod would stay and look after Kitty 
and Turpin. 

In half an hour I had reached the warehouse. 
A sleepy sentinel told me that the lieutenant was 
not there. He occupied a room " over beyant," 
in a large frame boarding-house. Ringing the 
bell, a colored servant answered. "Would he 
show me to Lieutenant Amory's room ? He 
would, and we went up the main stairway and 
out on a back gallery to one of those little ten by 
six boxes, without which no New Orleans board- 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 183 

ing-place is complete. No answer to our knock, 
but the door was unlocked, and I entered and 
turned up the light. There stood his trunk, open. 
Papers and letters were strewn on the bureau, 
and among them, almost the first to catch my 
eye, was a dainty envelope addressed in that 
graceful, unmistakable hand to Lieutenant Frank 
Amory at Sandbrook, and forwarded thence to 
ISTew Orleans. He had had another letter, then, 
from Bella. 

In answer to inquiries, the servant said that 
Mr. Amory had come in " lookin' mighty tired" 
late in the afternoon ; had taken a bath, dressed, 
and gone out again without saying a word to 
anybody, and had not been back since. Telling 
him he might go, I decided to await Amory's 
return. I knew not where to search for him. 

It was then late. The bells of the churches 
over on Camp Street and Lafayette Square were 
chiming ten o'clock. All below was very quiet. 
The distant roar of wheels down towards Canal 
Street, and the tinkle of the mule-cars were the 
only sounds that struck upon the ear. I felt 
strangely worried and depressed, and sought for 
something with which to occupy my thoughts and 
keep me from brooding. Books there were none, 
for Mars had had no time for reading since his 
arrival ; paper, envelopes, some open letters were 
on the bureau with her envelope, but the letter 
it had contained was gone. Tossing them over 



184 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

witli impatient hand, I came upon two envelopes 
addressed in his vigorous hand ; one to his mother, 
the otlier to Miss Isabel R. Grayson, care of 
Hon. H. C. Grayson, Syracuse, New York, — 
further confirmation of my theory. Then there 
were some scraps of paper on which he had been 
scribbling; and on one, written perhaps a dozen 
times, was the name "Kittie." That was hia 
way, then, of spelling it. 

An hour passed by. Eleven o'clock came, and 
no Amory. I could stand it no longer. Once 
more I went out on Magazine Street, and over 
to the warehouse. This time a corporal of the 
guard met me and seemed to know me. 

" No, sir. The lieutenant hasn't been in all 
night, sir, and it isn't his way at all. He may 
be over at headquarters. Shall I send, sir ?" 

No. I decided to go myself. 

Late as it was, a broad glare of light shone out 
from the upper windows of the handsome brown- 
stone residence, occupied at the time by the com- 
manding general as the offices of himself and 
the staff. The lower hall was open. I entered 
and went up-stairs to the first open door. One 
or two officers in undress uniform were lounging 
about ; and, seeing me, Colonel Newhall sprang 
up and came hastily forward, inviting me to 
enter. I inquired at once for Amory, and briefly 
stated that we feared he was not well. This 
brought to his feet the junior aide-de-camp w^hom 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 185 

we had seen galloping down Cliartres Street the 
previous night. 

" Amory was here early in the evening asking 
for me," he said, " and he left this note. I can- 
not understand. He seems worried about some- 
thing." 

I took the note and read, — 

" Dear Parker : Both times I've been in to 
see you to-day, you happened to be out. I must 
see you. I must get a leave and go North at 
once. Can you suggest any way of helping me ? 
Some one must take the troop. I'll be in this 
evening. Do wait for me. 

" Yours, 

" Amory." 

" It is after eleven now and no sign of him," 
said the aide. " You say you thought he looked 
ill?" 

" Very ill," I answered, " and I am strangely 
worried." 

" Sit down just a few minutes until I see the 
general. Then, if possible, I'll go with you and 
see if we can find him." 

Perhaps ten minutes afterwards we were on 
our way back to his temporary quarters, when the 
aide-de-camp called out to a man whom I saw 
hurrying along the opposite side of the street 
under the gas-lamp, and the very corporal who 

16* 



J 86 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

was on duty at the stables came springing over 
the cobble-stones. 

" I was looking for you, sir," he said, breath- 
lessly. " Did you see the lieutenant ?" 

" No ; where is he ?" 

" I don't know, sir. Directly after you left he 
jumped off a street-car and ordered us to saddle 
up. I routed out the first sergeant and the men, 
but before they could get their clothes and belts 
on he had leaped on his horse and galloped off 
down the street like mad. We don't know what 
to do, sir." 

" Which way did he go ?" quickly asked the 
ofiicer with me. 

" Down the street, sir, towards Canal." 

" Give me one of your fastest horses. Tell the 
first sergeant I want to see him at once, and let 
the men unsaddle again." 

" What do you think it is?" I anxiously asked. 

" Fever ; and he is twice as delirious as Yinton 
was. We must find him at once." 



CHAPTEK XIII. 

That night we had a chase such as I had never 
before indulged in. The aide-de-camp believed 
Frank Amory to be ill with fever : — delirium in 
fact, but to my knowledge delirium was unusual 
as a first symptom of an ordinary Southern fever. 
He might be feverish ; might indeed be ill ; but 
that alone would not be apt to cause his extra- 
ordinary excitement. Two or three officers at 
headquarters had remarked his strange manner 
and absent-minded replies, said the aide, while 
he had been there early in the evening, but at 
that time his face was pale rather than flushed. 

At the stables on Magazine Street we again 
questioned the sergeant. "Did the lieutenant 
appear to be under any strong excitement?" 
asked the aide-de-camp, and the sergeant eyed 
him askance a moment as though he misunder- 
stood the drift of the question, seeing which I 
interposed, — 

" The captain fears that Mr. Amory is seized 
with just such a fever as that which prostrated 
Major Yinton." "Whereat the sergeant looked 
relieved, and answered, — 

" I couldn't say, sir. He never spoke more 

187 



188 KITTrS CONQUEST. 

than to order his horse and then go off at a 
gallop. But two or three times lately at Sand- 
brook he has done that, — taken his horse and 
gone off riding at the dead of night. He may 
be ill, sir, but I couldn't say." 

This news in some way strengthened my view 
of the case. The fact that he had frequently or 
occasionally gone off in a similar manner went 
to prove that the ailment was not a new bodily 
trouble. Knowing what 1 knew and felt bound 
to keep to myself, it was not hard to determine 
that mental perturbations, aggravated perhaps 
by recent fatigues and excitements, were at the 
bottom of Amory's strange conduct. None the 
less, however, I was eager to find and bring him 
back. He ought not to be away from his com- 
mand at such a time. Directing the sergeant to 
say to Mr. Amory that we were in search of 
him and begged him to wait for us on his re- 
turn, the aide-de-camp and I hurried down the 
street; sought a cab-stand; and, jumping into 
one of the light cabriolets that were then a fea- 
-ture of the New Orleans streets, we drove rap- 
idly down to Vinton's quarters. I thought Amory 
might have galloped thither. A dim light was 
burning in the sick-room, as we could see from 
the front. The door was closed and locked, but 
I rang, and presently a servant came sleepily 
through the hall and stared at me in mild stupe- 
faction. "No. Mr. Amory hadn't been there." 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 189 

I brushed past the darky and went noiselessly 
up the stairs and tapped at Vinton's door. Tlie 
nurse came and peered at me through the inch- 
wide crack ; not a whit more would he open the 
door lest the night air should be wafted in. 

''"We fear that Lieutenant Amory is taken 
ill," I said in a low tone. " He may come here 
to see his captain. Try and get him to lie down 
in Colonel Summers's room until we get back, 
if he should come." The nurse nodded; said 
that Vinton was sleeping quietly, and directed 
me to Harrod's door. I knocked there, and it 
was opened in a moment. 

" What ! you, Brandon ? Anything wrong ?" 

" We can't find Amory. He is on horseback 
and galloping around town all by himself. They 
think at headquarters that he may be ill with 
fever like Vinton. Mr. Parker and I are hunt- 
ing for him. K he should come here, get him 
into 3^our room and make him lie down, will 
you ?" 

" Certainly I will. But, Brandon, had not I 
better go with you? Are you sure he is ill? 
I thought him strange enough at Moreau's, 
but " 

" I cannot say what it is," I broke in, impa- 
tiently. " I must hurry ofi', as he must be found 
as quickly as possible." 

With that I turned away and retraced my 
steps through the dimly-lighted hall. Reaching 



190 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

the stairs I paused, for another door had softly 
opened, and Pauline's voice, low-toned and anx- 
ious, was heard. 

" Harrod, what is it ?" 

" Mr. Amory is ill, I'm afraid," was the reply, 
and I hurried back to the street. 

Eapidly we drove to the levee, and there at 
the depot found Major Williams's sleeping bat- 
talion. The aide sprang out and accosted a 
sentry. A sergeant came with a lantern and 
ushered the stafl-officer in among the snoring 
groups ; for the men had thrown themselves in 
their blankets upon the wooden flooring. Pres- 
ently they reappeared, and with them came Mr. 
Turpin, hurriedly adjusting his collar and cravat. 

" Sheep always was a most excitable fellow," 
he was saying, " but this beats me. He hasn't 
been here at all, and I've no idea where he can 
have gone." 

Leaving directions what was to be done in 
case he did appear, we drove away up Canal 
Street. It was then nearly two o'clock, but 
there were still loungers around the Cla}^ statue; 
lights gleaming from one or two " open-all- 
night" bars and from the cab-lanterns on St. 
Charles Street. Our driver pulled up, and Mr. 
Parker sprang out and exchanged a few words 
with a policeman. I could not hear, but saw 
that the latter pointed up the street: and the 
aide came quickly back, — 



KITTF'S CONQUEST. 191 

"Drive on, — right out Canal, and keep a briglit 
lookout for an officer on horseback," were his 
orders, as we whirled away over the smooth 
pavement. 

" That policeman says he saw a young officer 
gallop out this way not ten minutes ago, and he's 
been wondering ever since what was going on. 
He walked up as far as Dryades Street to find 
out, thinking he might have stopped at the State- 
House; but all is quiet there, and the patrols 
told him the officer went on out Canal, riding 
like mad." 

Evidently, then. Mars had stopped somewhere 
or had ridden elsewhere before going out towards 
the swamps. We peered eagerly up and down 
the dimly-lighted cross-streets as we whirled 
rapidly past them. The lamps along the broad 
thoroughfare grew infrequent ; the street was 
deserted. Once in a while we passed a carriage- 
load of revellers returning from the shell road 
and a supper at the " Lake End." "Well out to- 
wards the stables of the street-railway we caught 
sight of another policeman ; hauled up, and 
hailed him with anxious questioning, l^o, he 
had seen no officer on horseback; his beat lay 
along Canal Street, but he had " taken a turn 
through a side street after a couple of s'picious- 
lookin' parties," and might have been gone four 
or five minutes. Crack ! went the whip, and we 
pushed ahead. Gas-lamps now became few and 



192 KITTrS CONQUEST. 

far between ; open stretches of level turf or 
prairie were visible here and there between the 
houses or garden-walls; the moonlight was 
tempered and shrouded by low-hanging clouds, 
and surrounding objects were only dimly seen. 
Still we whirled ahead over the smooth-beaten 
road, and at last drove rapidly between the high 
walls of the silent cities of the dead that bounded 
the highway near the crossing of the canal. Two 
or three loungers were hanging about the dimly- 
lighted portico of a saloon. Mr. Parker sprang 
out and made some rapid inquiries, then hurried 
back to the cab. 

" He crossed here nearly half an hour ago, — 
went right on over the bridge," he exclaimed, as 
he sprang in and told the driver to whip up. 
" Turn to the right," he added. " Drive towards 
Lake End. It's the only place he can have gone." 
And in a moment more the wheels were whirring 
over the level track ; a dense hedgerow of swamp 
undergrowth on our left; the dark waters of the 
canal on our right. 

We passed two or three roadside hostelries, 
whose enticing lights still lured the belated or 
the dissipated into the ready bars. Mr. Parker 
scanned them as we drove ahead. 

" He never drinks a drop, I hear, and it's no 
use looking for him there." 

Nevertheless, our driver suddenly pulled up in 
front of a lamp-lighted entrance. " There's a 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 193 

couple of buggies and a horse in under that 
shed," said he. 

The aide-de-camp jumped out and stepped 
briskly oif in the direction indicated by the 
driver's hand. Our cab again pulled up. Pres- 
ently he emerged from the darkness of the shed. 

" It isn't Amory's horse. It's a Louisiana 
pony," said he. " Wait one moment and I'll see 
who's inside." 

With that he sprang up the steps and walked 
rapidly towards the glass doorways of the bar. 

He was in civilian dress except for the forage- 
cap, which he had hastily picked up when we 
left the office. Its gold cord and crossed sabres 
gleamed under the lamp as he sharply turned the 
door-knob and entered the room. Even without 
that cap I by this time would have known his 
profession ; he had that quick, springy, nervous 
walk and erect carriage so marked among the 
younger West-Pointers. My eyes followed hira 
until he disappeared ; so apparently did others. 

From the farther end of the gallery two dark 
forms rose from a sitting posture, and one of 
them came tiptoeing along towards the doorway. 
Our cab had halted near the steps at the end op- 
posite them, and, despite our lights, the stealth- 
ily-moving figure seemed to pay no attention to 
us. Before I had time to conjecture what his 
object could be, the man crouched before the 
door, his hat pulled low over his forehead, and 
I n 17 



194 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

peered eagerly through the glass. Then he turned 
his head ; gave a low whistle, and, almost at a 
run, the second figure, in slouch hat like the first 
and with overcoat pulled well up about his ears, 
hurried to his side ; stooped ; peered through, 
and shook his head. 

" Drive up there, quick !" I said. And, as 
hoof and wheel crunched through the gravel, the 
pair drew suddenly back; sprang noiselessly 
down the steps and in among the shrubbery 
out of my sight. Almost at the same instant 
Mr. Parker reappeared ; took his seat beside 
me, and, before I could interpose, called out, 
" Drive on, — Lake End." And away we went, 
leaving the mysterious strangers in the dusk 
behind us. 

" Amory has not been seen there, nor beyond. 
There are two young sports in there who came 
in from Lake End half an hour ago, but tliey are 
both pretty full. The barkeeper said there were 
two more gentlemen who came out from town 
with another buggy earlier, but they had gone 
outside." 

" I saw them," answered I, " and they are bad 
characters of some kind. They stole up on tip- 
toe and peered after you as you went in, then 
sprang back out of sight as you came out. I 
wanted to tell you about them. They seemed 
waiting or watching for somebody." 

" Gamblers or ' cappers' probably. Fellows 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 195 

wbo lie in wait for drunken men with money and 
steer them into their dens, — fleece them, you 
know. The streets are full of them day and 
night." 

"Yes; but these men wore slouch hats and 
overcoats that muffled their faces, and they 
watched you so oddly. Why did they leap back 
as you came out ?" 

" That was odd," said Mr. Parker, thought- 
fully. " Could you see nothing of their faces ?" 

"Nothing at all, except that the first man had 
a heavy dark moustache, and was tall and stoutly 
built; the other seemed young and slight; his 
face was hidden entirely." 

The aide-de-camp leaned out and looked back 
along the dark road ; then drew in again. 

"No use to look," he said. "Even if they 
were to follow I could not see ; their buggy has 
no lamps, our rig has to have them. Are you 
armed ?" 

"No; I never carry anything." 

" Nor I, as a rule; yet had I thought we would 
come so far at this time of night I would have 
brought my revolver. Not that any attack is to 
be feared from those two unless there should be 
a crowd at their back; otherwise we would be 
three to two." 

"But they are armed, and we are not." 

" They think we are, all the same. The aver- 
age citizen hereabouts goes prepared to shoot if 



196 KITTF'S CONQUEST. 

he is on a night-prowl like this. I don't know 
why I asked if you were armed." 

Then for some distance we rattled along in 
silence. The clouds had grown heavier ; a few 
heavy rain-drops had pattered in on our faces, 
and the night air was damp and raw. We passed 
one or two more dark houses, and then came in 
view of the lights at Lake End. Here, despite 
the lateness of the hour, one or two resorts seemed 
still to be open and patronized. Directing the 
driver to turn towards the lights on the right, 
Mr. Parker again sprang out, looked in the car- 
riage-shed, then into the bar-room; came out, 
crossed the way, and made a similar search in a 
neighboring establishment. Then I saw him 
questioning a sleepy-looking stableman, and then 
he came back to me. Perplexity and concern 
were mingled in his face as he stood there look- 
ing up at me in the glare of our lamp. 

" Nobody has been here on horseback since 
midnight. These are the only places open since 
that hour, and now there are not more than half 
a dozen people out here — roysterers after a late 
supper. Where could Amory have gone? Do 
you suppose he knew his way back by "Washing- 
ton Avenue, and had turned to the left instead 
of this way ?" 

" He is an entire stranger in New Orleans, — 
never was out here before in his life, — and I 
don't know what to make of it." 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. J 97 

He looked at his watcli, retook his seat. " We 
must get back to the bridge," suid he. "Driver, 
stop at Gaston's, — where we were before, — and 
go lively." 

•^ Now through the pattering rain we hurried 
on our return trip, We were silent, plunged in 
thought and anxiety. In some way those two 
skulkers at Gaston's had become connected in 
my mind with Amory's disappearance. I could 
not shake off the impression, and, as though the 
same train of thought were affecting my com- 
panion, he suddenly spoke, — 

" You say that those men followed me as I 
went in, and sprang out into the shrubbery as I 
came back?" 

"Yes; as though to avoid being seen by 
you." 

He took off his forage-cap and looked disgust- 
edly at it a moment. 

" Confound this thing ! "Why didn't I wear 
my hat?" he muttered; then turned suddenly to 
me : " Mr. Brandon, when we get back to Gas 
ton's let me have your hat, will you? I would 
like to take another look in there, and if you 
will stay in the cab, we will stop this side of the 
entrance, and I'll go ahead on foot. Here, driver, 
hold up a moment." 

Cabby reined in his horse and turned towards 
us in surprise. The aide-de-camp sprang out in 
the rain and began working at the lamp. 
17* 



198 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

"Don't put it out, sir; it's against orders,'* 
said the driver. 

"Never you mind, driver; I'll be responsible 
for any row there may be over it. There is 
reason for it, and a mighty good one. Douse 
that glim on your side. That's right ! Now go 
ahead, lively as you can, and stop just this side 
of Gaston's." 

Then for a while we pushed on in the dark- 
ness, and nobody spoke. Finally the driver 
turned, saying that Gaston's lights were near at 
hand ; presently he reined up. Mr. Parker ex- 
changed head-gear with me ; pulled the brim of 
my roomy black felt well down over his face; 
and, cautioning us in a low tone to remain where 
we were, disappeared in the direction of the 
lights. 

It must have been long after three. I was 
tired and chilled. The driver got out his gum 
coat and buttoned it around him. Five — ten 
minutes we waited. No sound but the dismal 
patter of the rain. Full quarter of an hour 
passed, it seemed to me, before I saw a lantern 
coming rapidly out of the darkness in front, and 
presently Mr. Parker's voice was heard. 

" Come on ; drive slowly. Go right in to Gas- 
ton's," and, even as he spoke, he swung in beside 
me. " Had Amory any money, do you know ?" 
he asked, before fairly taking his seat. 

"No. Why?" 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. J 99 

" There is something strange about this affair 
I cannot fathom. I've been talking with Gaston 
and one of his men. They have been sitting up 
waiting for us to get back. Those two footpads 
were up to some mischief, and I'm afraid it was 
Amory they were after. You will hear in a 
moment. Come into the bar," he said, as the 
cab stopped at the steps. 

Another moment and Gaston himself had 
ushered us into a little room and proceeded to 
tell his tale. "We had no sooner left, he said, 
than those gentlemen who came from town in 
the buggy after midnight re-entered the bar, 
ordered drinks, and asked Gaston to join them. 
One was a big man, with a heavy moustache, 
and deep-set eyes under very shaggy brows ; he 
was rather poorly dressed, and had no watch. 
The other was a young, dark-eyed, handsome 
fellow, with dark moustache, stylish clothes, and 
a fine gold watch, which he kept nervously 
looking at every moment or so. The former 
did all the talking; the latter paid for every- 
thing they ordered both before and after our 
visit. After a few ordinary remarks the big 
man asked Gaston who the young officer was, 
and Gaston, knowing him to be stationed in the 
city and having often seen him, gave his name. 
Then they wanted to know who was with him in 
the cab, and " what took him off so sudden." 
Gaston had seen nobody with bim, but told them 



200 KlTTrS CONQUEST. 

unhesitatingly that Mr. Parker was in search of 
a friend, — an officer who had ridden out on 
horseback. At this the men had looked sud- 
denly at one another, and very soon after had 
gone out, saying they believed they would drive 
back, it looked like rain. 

Five minutes afterwards, Louis, the hostler, 
came into the bar and asked Gaston who those 
men were, and, on being told that they were 
strangers, had replied, " Well, they're here for 
no good, and I'd like to follow them up. They 
didn't see me out there in the dark, and w^ere 
talking verj^ low and fast when they came for 
their buggy." We called Louis in and had his 
story from his own lips. He had heard their 
talk, and it alarmed and puzzled him. The big 
man was saying with an oath that some man they 
were waiting for must be around there some- 
where ; he had come across the bridge, for Gas- 
ton told them the officer said so. The little man 
was excited, and had answered, "Well, we've 
got to tackle him ; but don't you drive into any 
light." With that and some more talk they had 
got into the buggy and had driven rapidly off 
towards the Canal Street bridge. 

" How long ago ?" asked Mr. Parker. 

" Full half an hour," was the answer. 

" Then we had better start at once," said the 
aide to me. " What other placets are there near 
here that would be open now, Gaston ?" 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 201 

" None at all. I'd have been shut long ago but 
for this aftair. There are one or two saloons 
near the bridge and the Metairie track, but none 
would be open this late." 

Thanking them for their information, and 
promising to let them know if anything resulted, 
we hurried out to the cab and told the driver to go 
to the bridge. We were both more than anxious 
by this time, and were unable to account for the 
strange proceedings in any satisfactory manner. 

The rain seemed to have held up for a few 
moments, and the veil of clouds thrown over the 
face of the moon had perceptibly thinned, so that 
a faint, wan light fell upon roadway, swamp, and 
canal. The lamps at the crossing burned with a 
yellowish glare. No one was visible around the 
bridge or the buildings at the city end, — no one 
from whom we could obtain information as to 
the movements of Amory or of the two strangers. 

" There are one or two places over here on the 
upper side I mean to have a look at," said Mr. 
Parker, " and if no one is there, Amory must 
have gone back to town." 

We had turned to the right, towards Lake 
Pontchartrain, on coming out. Now the driver 
was directed to go to the other side. Parker 
kept peering out into the darkness, and presently 
the driver said, — 

" I think there's a light in there at Qaffney's." 

" Hold up, then," said the aide. " Now, Mr. 



202 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

Brandon, lend me your hat again : I'm going to 
hunt through one or two sheds hereabouts for 
that huggy. I may be gone ten or twelve minutes. 
You get the cab into this little side alley here and 
wait. Those men will be on the watch for our 
lamps if they are still here, but I can crawl up 
on them by keeping the cab out of sight." 

The side alley proved to be a lane leading 
through the tall hedge of swampy vegetation. I 
could not see where it led to, but the driver said 
it only ran out a few hundred feet to some barns 
that lay near the old Metairie track. He drove 
in, hovi^ever, and halted the cab close under the 
hedge on one side. Too nervous to sit still, I got 
out and walked back to the main road, where 
the buildings of Gaffney's place could be seen. 
There was, as the driver had said, a dim light, 
but it seemed to be in one of the rear rooms. 

For five minutes all was silent. Then, far up 
the road, I thought I heard the beat of horses' 
hoofs coming on at a jog-trot. Listening in- 
tently, I soon was assured. Nothing could be 
seen along the dark shadow of the hedgerow ; 
the light was too feeble to point out objects in the 
road; but every moment, more and more dis- 
tinctly, I heard what I felt certain to be a horse 
and buggy coming towards us. Then all of a 
sudden the sound ceased. 

The approach to Gaifney's was a semicircular 
Bweep of shell road leading from the main high- 



KITTTS CONqUEST. 203 

way to the galleries of the saloon. There was 
probably a distance of a hundred yards between 
the two entrances. I was standing at the north- 
ern end. That buggy had evidently stopped at 
or very near the other. I almost fancied I could 
see it. Now, had Parker heard it coming? 
Waiting a moment more in breathless expec- 
tancy, I suddenly heard, as though from the 
shrubbery in front of Gaffhey's, low, prolonged, 
and clear, a whistle. My nerves leaped with 
sudden start. The same odd thrill of tremulous 
excitement seized me that had so mastered me that 
strange night in the old plantation home at Sand- 
brook. It was for all the world like the signal- 
whistle that had so roused me that night, only 
very much softer. Could it have been from Mr. 
Parker ? Whether it was or no he would prob- 
ably need me now. I crept into the shadow of 
the hedgerow and, on tiptoe, hastened up the 
curve towards the gallery. A dim figure was 
standing at the end of the house peering towards 
the other entrance, — a figure that held out a 
warning hand, and I stole noiselessly up beside 
it, my heart beating like a trip-hammer. It was 
Parker. 

" Quiet," he whispered ; " I think we have 
treed our buggy friends." 

" The buggy is out there on the road," I an- 
swered. 

" It was, but that whistle will bring it in here. 



204 KITTY'S CONQUEST 

There stands the big man just at the other end 
of the gallery. He cannot see us ; he is looking 
the other way. Follow me across into the shrub- 
bery and we will get up near him. I'm bound 
to hear what devilment they are up to." 

With that he sprang lightly across. I fol- 
lowed ; and, crouching noiselessly along the soft 
grass, we stole through the low trees and bushes 
until nearly opposite the southern end of the 
gallery. Almost at the same instant the buggy 
came driving up the turn, and a voice uttered an 
impatient " Whoa !" 

" What have you seen ?" queried the party in 
the buggy in a low, agitated voice, — a voice I 
knew I had heard before, and instinctively 
reached forth my hand and placed it on my 
companion's arm. 

" Seen ! Not a d — d thing. Your blue-bellied 
skunk has been too smart for you, Cap. He not 
only hasn't come himself, but he's got his friends 
out here on your track." 

*' He has come, I tell you," answered the first 
speaker. " You know yourself they were asking 
for him at Gaston's, and that fellow at the bridge 
told you he saw him ride across." 

" Then where'd he go to ?" said the other, 
sulkily and savagely. " No man passed Gaston's 
on horseback, I can swear to that; and if he 
came at all as far as the bridge, why didn't he 
come the rest of the way ? Where did he go ? 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 205 

H jw did he get back ? Are you sure you wrote 
plain directions ?" 

" Plain ! Of course I did. I wrote turn to- 
wards the lake, to the south, after crossing the 
bridge, and he'd find me; and so he would, 
d — n him !" added the younger man between 
his teeth. His voice was growing more and 
more familiar to me every moment in its sulky, 
peevish tones. 

" But you said he was a stranger here. How 
was he to know where the lake lay ?" 

" Suppose he didn't ! I told him to turn south. 
Any man knows north from^ south I reckon. 
Perhaps the white-livered sneak was a Yank at 
bottom, and lost his nerve." 

" Tain't likely. Not from what I seen of him. 
His kind don't scare so d — d easy at yours, and 
he came out here to find you, you bet. Why 
didn't you say turn to the right instead of south ? 
Damfino which is north or south here anyhow. 
How was he to know ?" 

" Don't be a fool !" said the other, impatiently, 
" everybody knows the river runs north and 
south, and Canal Street runs out right angles to 
the river, and you turn to the right to go to the 
lake. It must be south." 

Here I couldn't help nudging my neighbor, 
the aide, who was chuckling with delight at this 
scientific statement. 

" "Well, by Gawd ! you may know more 'bout 

18 



206 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

it than I do ; but when I got oft' that boat yester- 
day morning up there by Julia Street, d — n me 
if the sun wasn't rising in the west then, — over 
there across Algiers, — and if the Yank is no 
better posted on the points of the compass than 
I am, strikes me he's slipped out of your trap easy 
enough." 

" You mean he's gone to the left — past here ?" 
asked the other, snarlingly. 

" Just that. He's taken the turn to the lett. 
None of these places this side have been open 
since we came out; and seeing no one, he's kept 
on, and probably got back to town some other 
way. Like enough he's in bed and asleep by 
this time, and here we've been fooling away the 
whole night." 

Chilled as I was, trembling 'twixt cold and 
excitement, I was beginning to enjoy this con- 
versation hugely. More than that, both the aide 
and myself were beginning to feel assured that 
Amory was safe. 

•' Then all we can do is go back," said the 
young man in the buggy, after a moment of 
silence. "But I'll get that fellow yet," he added, 
with a torrent of blasphemy. " Get in." 

" Where's that flask of yours?" asked the man 
on the steps. " I want a drink." 

" Get in first and I'll give it to you." 

Then we heard the creaking of the springs, 
and the dim, shadowy form of the big man lum- 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 207 

bered into the light vehicle. A gurgle and a 
long-drawn " ah-h-h" followed, then, — 

"Got a cigar?" 

" Yes ; but hadn't we better wait until we get 
back on Canal Street before lighting them ? We 
want to look out for those other fellows in that 
oab, you know." 

" Oh, d — n them ! You can see their lamps 
half a mile off. Here, give us a match." 

Another minute and a feeble glare illuminated 
the dark interior. Pale and blue at first, it 
speedily gained strength and lighting power. 
Eagerly we scanned the two faces, now for one 
never-to-be-forgotten instant revealed to our gaze. 
One lowering, heavy-browed, coarse, and bearded ; 
the other — ah, well I knew I had heard that 
voice, for there, half mufiled in the heavy coat, 
naif shrouded by the slouching hat, were the 
pale, clear-cut, dissipated features I had marked 
so keenly at Sandbrook. It was the face of Ned 
Peyton. 



CHAPTER XIV. ^ 

Another minute the match, spluttering in thw 
damp night air, was extinguished; but I had seen 
enough. To the amaze of my companion, to the 
scandal of any legal or professional education I 
might have had, indignation got the better of all 
discretion, and 1 burst through the shrubbery 
and laid my hand on the rein. 

"Mr. Peyton, I believe," said I, in a tone 
intended to be double-shotted with sarcasm. 
"Think we had the pleasure of meeting at 
Judge " 

" Hell !" hissed a startled voice. " Quick, — 
drive on !" Crack ! went the whip ; the horse 
plunged violently forward ; the wheel struck me 
full on the left leg and hurled me against the 
stout branches of some dripping bush, and with 
a whirr of wheels and crushing of gravel the 
buggy disappeared in the darkness. Mr. Parker 
ran to my assistance, and together we rushed to 
our own cab. 

" Follow that buggy ! Be lively !" was all I 
could find breath to say to our driver, and then 
we were ofi* in pursuit. We heard their hoofa 

208 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 209 

and wheels thundering over the bayou bridge, 
and saw their light vehicle flash under the lamps 
at the Canal Street end, and that was the last we 
ever did see of them. Our old horse with his 
heavy load was no match for theirs. Long be- 
fore we reached the open road beyond the ceme- 
teries, they were spinning along hundreds of 
yards out of sight ahead, and gaining at every 
stride. In hurried words I told the aide-de-camp 
who the youth was and what I knew about him, 
and, like myself, he was eager to overhaul him ; 
but it was useless. Not a trace could we find of 
the precious pair as we drove in town. Day was 
breaking, and all our thoughts now turned to 
Amory. Where was he, and how had he escaped 
the trap ? 

In the cold, misty dawn we reined up at the 
Magazine Street warehouse. The sentry, with 
his head wrapped in the cape of his overcoat, 
called out the corporal of the guard, and of him 
we eagerly inquired. Yes. The lieutenant had 
returned, about an hour ago, his horse covered 
with mud and much " blown." The lieutenant 
seemed to have a chill, and had gone right to his 
room. Thither we followed, and noiselessly 
ascending the stairs, made our way out to the 
gallery. A dim light burned in the window; 
the door was half open, and by the bedside sat a 
soldier, who at sight of Mr. Parker rose and 
saluted respectfully. 

o 18* 



210 KITTrS CONqUEST. 

" What has been the matter, orderly ?" asked 
the aide-de-camp, in a whisper. 

" I don't quite know, sir. Lieutenant Amor^ 
came home with a bad chill about an hour ago, 
and quick as he dismounted I came over with 
him, and he took some quinine and got to bed. 
He's just gone to sleep. He hasn't been to bed 
for forty-eight hours, sir, and must be used up." 

We stepped forward and bent over him. He 
bad removed his heavy riding-boots and trousers ; 
his cavalry jacket was thrown on the chair at the 
foot of the bed ; and, muffled up in blankets, he 
lay there, sleeping heavily yet uneasily. He 
moaned in his slumber, and threw himself rest- 
lessly on the other side as we raised the light to 
see his face. Placing my hand lightly on his 
forehead, I found it burning ; so were his cheeks, 
his hands. Fever had certainly set in after his 
chill, but of how severe a character we could not 
judge, and it would never do to awaken him 
We stepped out on the landing, and after a brief 
consultation, decided that Parker should find the 
attending surgeon and send him to us as soon 
as possible. Meantime, I would remain with 
Amory. 

In less than an hour the doctor arrived. Very 
thoroughly, yet very gently, he examined his 
patient as to pulse and temperature; closely 
scrutinized his face, and then replaced the bed- 
clothing that in his fevered tossing Amory had 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 211 

thrown off. Seeing the anxiety in my eyes, he 
epoke, — 

" Very feverish, and probably quite ilL You 
did right not to wake him. He will not sleep 
long, and every little helps. I will stay for the 
present, and be with him when he does wake, for 
until then I cannot really judge of his condition. 
What a night you have had of it, Mr. Brandon ! 
Parker has been telling me something of it." 

I glanced half reproachfully at Parker. We 
had agreed to keep the thing to ourselves until I 
could see Harrod and consult with him. But the 
aide promptly relieved me of any misapprehen- 
sion. He had " named no names," nor had he 
spoken of the part played by Peyton. Then, at 
the doctor's suggestion, we withdrew, to seek such 
rest as we could find after our night in the rain. 
Leaving Parker at headquarters, with the promise 
to meet him late in the afternoon, I went to my 
own rooms, gave my suspicious-looking landlady 
directions that I was not to be disturbed until 
noon, and, tired out, slept until after two o'clock. 

When I opened my eyes, Harrod Summers 
rose from an easy-chair in the sitting-room, and 
came forward to greet me with outstretched hand. 
One glance at his face showed that he had some- 
thing of lively interest to tell me, and as I sat 
up half sleepily in bed and answered his query 
as to whether I felt rested or any the worse for 
the night's adventures, I could see plainly that 



212 KITTY'S CONQUEST 

there was some matter that worried him, and 
divined quite readily that he wanted to speak 
with me. It all came out while I was shaving 
and dressing, and, dovetailed with what was al- 
ready known to Mr. Parker and myself, " a very 
pretty quarrel" as it stood was unfolded to my 
ears. 

It seems that on leaving the theatre the night 
previous. Colonel Summers had stepped ahead 
of Kitty and her friend. Lieutenant Turpin, and 
was searching for me. Seeing nothing of me in 
the crowd around the entrance, he looked in at 
one or two resorts along Canal Street, thinking 
it possible that he might meet some officers who 
could tell him of Amory's movements, and so 
enable him to judge of mine. Meantime, Tur- 
pin and Kitty strolled homeward, arm in arm. 
On reaching the Clay statue, Harrod decided to 
search no farther, but to go home, feeling sure 
that if anything were wrong I would follow him 
thither. At the house Pauline met him with 
anxious inquiry. Had he seen or heard any- 
thing of Mr. Amory? Kitty had returned ten 
or fifteen minutes before ; had bidden Mr. Tur- 
pin a very abrupt good-night, and excused her- 
self on the plea of fatigue and headache; and 
Pauline, following her to her room, found her 
very pale and nervous, and learned from her that 
Amory had been at the theatre, looking " so 
strangely" she thought he was ill ; and, as tlicv 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 213 

came down the street, two men in a buggy drove 
up close beside them, and leaned out and stared 
at them. She was utterly upset by Araory's ap- 
pearance, perhaps, and thinking of him, did not 
notice this performance until Mr. Turpin sud- 
denly dropped her arm and strode fiercely to- 
wards the buggy, as though to demand the 
meaning of the conduct of its occupants ; where- 
upon they had whipped up and dashed off around 
the first corner; and one of them — though his 
hat and coat-collar concealed his face — one of 
them looked, she said, strangely like ITed Pey- 
ton. Pauline, seeing her nervousness and fright, 
had soothed her with arguments as to the impos- 
sibility of Peyton's being there; but she very 
anxiously spoke of the matter to Harrod. Then, 
after we had made our midnight visit, Kitty, in 
her loose wrapper, white as a sheet and trem- 
bling with dread and excitement, had stolen to 
Pauline's room. Her own window overlooked 
the balcony and the street, and unable to sleep, 
as she told Pauline, she was lying wide awake, 
when she heard rapid hoof-beats on the pave- 
ment coming from Canal Street, — a horse at 
rapid trot, but with no sound of wheels in com- 
pany, and the horse halted before their door. 
Unable to restrain her curiosity or anxiety, she 
had risen, stolen to the window, and peered out 
through the slats of the blind. A gas-lamp threw 
its light upon the street in front, and there, 



214 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

plainly illumined by its glare, sat Frank Amory 
in tlie saddle, gazing up at her window. She 
turned instantly, she knew not why, and stepped 
back. He could not have seen her, yet, in an- 
other moment, rapidly as he came, he rode away, 
turned to the left at the corner, and she heard 
his hoof-beats dying away in the direction of 
Dauphin Street. That was all, until we came, 
and not until I had gone had she courage to 
creep over to Pauline and tell her what she had 
seen. 

Eai'ly in the morning Harrod had gone to 
headquarters; found Amory's address, and on 
going thither was told by a soldier that the lieu- 
tenant was too ill to see anybody. But, on send- 
ing up his name, the doctor and Mr. Parker came 
down, and from them he learned that Amory 
had a sharp attack of fever; nothing like as 
serious as Vinton's, and one that would soon 
yield to treatment, provided nothing else went 
wrong. " There has been some sore trouble or 
anxiety which has been telling upon Amory," 
said the doctor, " and that complicates matters 
somewhat. He mat/ have had some delirium last 
night, but not enough to cause such a freak as 
an all-night gallop. In fact, Parker has con- 
fided to me that Mr. Brandon and himself know 
something of the matter, and that they mean to 
have a talk with you." 

" And that," said Harrod, " is what brought 



KITTTS CONQUEST. 215 

rae here four hours ago, though I had the grace 
not to disturb jou. Now, what is it ? What do 
you know ? Has that young cub Peyton been at 
the bottom of this ?" 

And then I told Harrod the story of our night's 
adventures. He listened at first with composure ; 
but when it came to the description of the two 
skulkers at Gaston's and the conversation I had 
overheard, he rose excitedly and began pacing 
rapidly up and down the room, tugging fiercely 
at his moustache. Every now and then some 
muttered anathema fell from his lips. He was 
evidently powerfully and unpleasantly moved, 
and when at last my prolix recital was brought 
to an end with the discovery of Peyton, and our 
fruitless chase, Harrod burst out into genuine 
imprecation, — 

" The doubly damned young scoundrel !" he 
groaned. " Why, Brandon, I believe there is 
no cowardly villainy of which that fellow is not 
capable, I ought to have gone with you. I knew 
I ought to have gone." 

" my so ?" 

*' Then we could have secured him by this 
time. It is too late now, I fear. He is oflF for 
Havana or Mexico." 

"But what good would that have done? What 
could we prove? What would you want him 
secured for now that we have Amory safe and 
warned against him in the future ? You would 



216 KITTrS CONQUEST. 

not care to have the thing made public, would 
you?" 

" Not if thai were all ! By heaven ! the easiest 
solution of the whole thing would be to let him 
try to trap Amory once more, and let Amory 
know all that — that we both know." 

" Do you mean that he has been at other mis- 
chief than this mysterious attempt at Amory ?" 

" Yes. We thought him safely out of the 
■vvay, — in Cuba. He was there, but must have 
come directly to this point when he heard of the 
verdict in those Ku-Klux cases. You know they 
acquitted Smith. No jury could be found that 
dared do otherwise, I suppose," he added 
gloomily. 

" I knew that, of course ; but why should that 
bring Peyton here ?" 

"He had to leave Havana, Brandon. Don't 
you remember father's anxiety at Sandbrook be- 
fore we came away ? and what he said about its 
perhaps being too late for any eifort on his part ? 
I was to have told you, but I couldn't bear to just 
yet. Wliy, that damned scoundrel forged father's 
signature to a large draft, and got the money 
there where the bankers knew them both. It 
was only discovered here in New Orleans when 
the draft came to the Hibernia, and as the loss 
comes on these old correspondents of father's in 
Havana, he feels bound to see them reimbursed, 
for he cannot bear the thought of disgrace to his 



KiTTrs cjNquEsr. 217 

uame or that of a kinsman. By Peyton's arrest 
we might secure part of the money. Tiiat is all, 
for he has taken every cent father had in the 
world." 

" Then the sooner we get to the chief of police 
and acquaint him with Peyton's movements and 
description the better it will be," said I, who felt 
no scruples whatever against bringing master 
Ned to the bar of justice. 

" It's too late, Brandon, I'm afraid. He saw 
Amory yesterday and Kitty last night ; he knows 
by this time we are here, and he is miles away. 
Father had telegraphed at once that he would 
refund the amount of Peyton's forged raise, and 
so suspended pursuit or arrest. Peyton of course 
has heard of this or he would not have ventured 
hither in the first place ; but he well knows that 
with me here it is no place for him. "We will 
go, of course, and start the detectives, but I fear 
we have lost him. Do you think Amory can see 
us this evening and tell us what he knows of 
this affair ?" 

" "We must see him, unless the doctor prohibits 
it ; but come first to the City Hall," said I. And 
as we rode thither in a street-car, both deeply 
engrossed in thought, Harrod turned suddenly 
towards me, — 

"Brandon, this is the most extraordinary 
piece of cross-purposes to me. For three weeks — 
for a month past, Frank Amory has been a mys- 

K 19 



218 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

tery. W^e all thought him growing very fond of 
Kitty, and after the affair on the Tennessee, 
where he was hurt, she seemed very much in- 
terested in him. Now for nearly a month he 
has avoided her, and she thinks that — well, she 
gave me a message for him the night we started, 
which virtually begged his forgiveness for some- 
thing she had said or done to wound him. She 
would never have sent it if she did not believe 
he cared for her. Of course I have never de- 
livered it, because she was here to speak for her- 
self, and told me not to ; but he has treated her 
with something like aversion, and she resents it, 
and now she's flirting with young Turpin, and 
then there will be more trouble. Great heavens ! 
what a world of misunderstandings it is !" And 
Harrod laughed despite his anxiety. 

Having some inkling by this time as to the 
secret of AmoryJ^s hesitancy and strange conduct 
towards Kitty, I told Harrod that a solution of 
the matter had occurred to me. There was an 
explanation, I believed, and a satisfactory one, 
and it would appear very shortly I thought. This, 
in profound wisdom and some mystery of man- 
ner, I imparted to the perplexed colonel. He 
gazed at me in bewilderment, but was polite 
enough to press the matter no further. 

" A few days will straighten that matter," said 
I. " We will see when he is well enough to be 
about again." And in my purblind idiocy I 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 219 

really fancied that letter of mine to Bella Gray- 
son was going to settle ev^erytliing. 

Our visit at police headquarters was brief and 
not particularly satisfactory. It was already past 
steamer time for both Havana and Vera Cruz. 
If Peyton were " wanted," a telegram to the 
quarantine station, with his full description, might 
establish whether or no he was on board ; but 
there were no officers there to make the arrest, 
and an arrest was not wanted in any event, — it 
was the recovery of the money. If he had not 
left town it was just barely possible they might 
nab him ; but dozens of river boats left New Or- 
leans for a dozen different points every evening, 
and there were hundreds of hiding-places in the 
city itself. He would try, said the chief, and one 
or two solemn-looking men in civilian's dress 
came in at his call and listened attentively to our 
description of Peyton and his companion ; but, 
one and all, they said they would like to hear 
Lieutenant Amory's account of what he had had 
to do with the pair. So, taking one of the de- 
tectives, we drove up to Amory's lodging. 

The doctor was there and came down to meet 
us. I told him our dilemma, and asked it it 
were possible to hear Amory's story. He looked 
grave for a moment, and considered well before 
answering. 

"You might see him, Mr. Brandon, if that 
will do. I would much rather he did not talk 



220 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

until to-morrow, but if there be an emergency, 
why, he can stand it. He is doing well, has slept 
well since his medicine began to take hold this 
morning, and now he's awake and inclined to be 
fretful. Something worries him, and perhaps it 
may be a benefit to see you." 

So Harrod and the detective waited, while I 
went up to interview Mars. 

Bless the boy's face ! It brightened so at sight 
of me that I felt like an uncle towards him. He 
was very pale, rather feeble, but eagerly grasped 
my hand and welcomed me. 

" Mr. Brandon has come to see you on busi- 
ness of some importance, Mr. Amory," said the 
doctor, " and you can talk with him, but talk as 
little as possible. We want to get you up and 
ready to travel, if you are bound to go iN'orth, so 
quiet will be necessary for a day or two." 

With that he vanished, taking the nurse with 
him. Then I told Amory that Parker and I had 
been in search of him late at night, and fearing 
he was taken ill, as Vinton had been, we trailed 
him out to the shell road, and there came upon 
Peyton and a burly stranger, from whose con- 
versation we found they were lying in wait for 
him. The moment they were discovered they 
drove off in a hurry. Could he give any clue 
by which we could find them ? Peyton was 
" wanted" for a grave crime. 

" What ?" asked Amory, flushing, and excited. 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 221 

"Forgery," I answered. "Now let me be 
brief as possible, Amory. I hate to excite you 
at such a time. Have you any idea where he is 
to-day, or who the other man is ?" 

" ]^one whatever." 

" Tell me, quietly as you can, how you came 
to go out there alone on horseback last night. 
Were you ill then ?" 

" jSTot so ill but that I knew what I was about. 
I had had some fever all day, probably, and — 
and was worried about something, — a letter from 
mother. She wants me to come IS^orth at once, 
and I would have gone but for this. Perhaps it 
worked on me a good deal. It was late when 
we got back from Jeffersonville. I w^rote a note 
to Parker, and left it at headquarters, and went 
on down-town, hoping to see Vinton, and in- 
tending to dine with you at Moreau's. I did not 
feel well, but I wanted to see you. Right there 
by the City Hotel a passing cab splashed me 
with mud, and I turned into the barber-shop to 
have it rubbed off. Quite a number of men 
were in there, talking a good deal, and seemed 
to have been drinking, but I paid no particular 
attention to them, until just as I was leaving one 

of them said, ' There's the d Yank now, 

Peyton. What better chance do you want ?' Of 
course I turned quickly and went right up to the 
fellow. One or two others sprang forward. Some 
one said, ' Shut up, you fool !' but it was too late. 

19* 



222 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

The man was drunk, probably, and having put 
his foot in it, had bravado enough not to back 
out entirely. He was in one of the chairs, his 
face covered with lather, and as I inquired if he 
referred to me, he replied, with drunken gravity, 
that his friend, Mr. Peyton, had expressed a de- 
sire to meet me, and ' there he was.' Sure enough 
there was young Peyton, stepping out from be- 
tween the chairs to his right, his face black as 
thunder. I was mad as a hornet, of course, and 
never stopped to think. ' Are you responsible 
for this gentleman's language ?' said I. ' Just as 
you please,' said he ; and with that I struck him 
full under the jaw, and knocked him back among 
the shaving-cups and bottles. Of course there 
was a terrible row. He drew his pistol, but it 
was yanked out of his hand by some stranger. 
A dozen men jumped in and separated us. I 
didn't know one of them, but they seemed bent 
on having fair play. He raved about satisfac- 
tion, and I said any time and any place. Then 
a gentlemanly-speaking fellow suggested that the 
friends or seconds meet at the Cosmopolitan, at 
ten o'clock ; that would give plenty of time, and 
obviate any trouble there. And before I fully 
realized the situation it was agreed that we were 
to settle the thing according to the code, and 
our friends were "to meet at ten o'clock, "With 
that he was led off, and I went out to think the 
matter over. Of course there was nothing to do 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 223 

but fight. I had knocked him down and was 
hound to give him satisfaction. But this was no 
cadet fisticuff; it was a serious matter, and I 
needed a friend. Of course it ought to be an 
oflicer, and now that Vinton was ill, I had no 
one with whom to advise. I went down to the 
depot to find Turpin. He was a classmate, and 
the very fellow to back me ; but Turpin wasn't 
there. I went to Moreau's in search of him, 
and — well, he was busy, and I couldn't ask him. 
Then I went up to headquarters for Parker. He 
was years ahead of me at the Point, but I knew 
he would see me through ; but Parker was out. 
He lived way up-town, and when I got there 
they told me he had gone to the theatre. That 
is what brought me to the Varieties. It was get- 
ting late, and I had nobody to act for me. All 
those infantry fellows were strangers, and at ten 
o'clock I had to go to the Cosmopolitan myself. 
Not a soul was there whom I knew, though one 
or two men dropped in who looked curiously at 
me, and whom I thought I had seen during the 
row. 

" It was nearly eleven o'clock, and I was well- 
nigh crazy with excitement and nervousness, 
fearing that I had made some mistake, and they 
could say I shirked the meeting. But just about 
eleven a man came in, who looked closely at me, 
said 'Captain Amory?' and handed me a note. 
There's the note, Mr. Brandon ; read it." 



224 KITTV'S CONQUEST. 

Read it I did. It was as follows : 

"LiEUTKNANT F. Amort, U.S.A.: 

" Sir, — In some way for which we find it impossible to ac- 
count, the authorities have got wind of our affair, and threat- 
ened me with arrest ; but I learn from a friend that you are 
at the Cosmopolitan unattended. The gentlemen who were 
present at the time of your outrageous affront this afternoon 
were total strangers to me, with one exception, but I cannot 
believe that they have betrayed me to the police. 

" As an officer you must be aware that there can be only 
one reparation for a blow, and, if a gentleman, you cannot 
refuse it. You said you would meet me any time and any 
place, and I hold you to your word. I demand instant satis- 
faction, before the police can interfere, and there is one place 
where, if alone, we can be sure of quiet. That is a shooting- 
and fencing-gallery on the shell road, where there is a room 
where gentlemen can settle such affairs with swords, and 
where every attention is paid and inviolable secrecy observed. 

" Leaving my friend here with the policeman who is 
watching our rooms, I shall slip out by the back way and go 
out on horseback. If you are a man of honor you will follow. 
Keep on out Canal Street to the end, cross the canal on the 
bridge, and then turn to the south. I will watch for your 
horse and conduct you to the spot. The bearer of this will 
bring a verbal answer, all that is necessary. Reminding you 
once more of the outrage you have committed upon a gentle- 
man, and of your promise to render full satisfaction at such 
time and place as I should demand, I am, with due respect, 
" Yours, etc., 

"Edward Harrod Peyton." 

I read it througli twice before speaking, Amory 
narrowly watching my face. 

" And do you mean to tell me, Frank Amory, 
that you could be led into a snare by such a 



KITTF'S CONQUEST. 225 

transparent piece of rascality as that ?" I asked 
at last. 

" How should I know ?" said Amory, flushing. 
" The letter reads straight enough. The barbers 
or somebody might have told the police, and I 
knew only that Mr. Peyton was a relative of 
gentlemen and supposed him to be a gentleman. 
Of course I went." 

" All the young scoundrel wanted was to get 
you there alone and unarmed, and then turn you 
over to that great bully he had for a terrible 
beating. He would never dare fight you fairly. 
This thing is a fraud on its face ; no Southern 
gentleman would ask such a thing of a stranger 
as a midnight meeting without seconds in an un- 
known spot. Why, Amory, it is absurd, and as 
I tell you, and as their talk proved, he only wanted 
to lure you there and see you brutally pounded 
and mutilated. The scoundrel knew he must 
leave town at once, and, hating you, he wanted 
this low revenge first." 

" "Why should he hate me ?" asked Amory. 

" Because of your fight with those villains of 
Hank Smith's last December, for one thing. He 
was hand in glove with them all. Because of — 
well, another reason occurs to me that need not 
be spoken of just now. I ought not to let you 
talk so much as it is. Tell me one thing, how- 
ever. You are anxious to go North, the doctor 
says. Can I serve you in any way ?" 



226 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

Amory hesitated. " Mother is very anxious 
that I should come, if possible," he faltered ; " and 
she is right. There — there are reasons why I 
ought to go and settle a matter that has given 
me much distress. I told her of it, and she 
writes that only one course is open to me." 
And the deep dejection and trouble in his face 
upset me completely. 

" Youngster," said I, impulsively. " Forgive 
me if I appear to intrude in your affairs, but you 
have become very near to me, if you know what 
I mean, in the last few months. We have learned 
to regard you as something more than a friend, 
the Summers' and I, and lately it seems to me 
that an inkling of your trouble has been made 
known to me (who would have said, ' I have been 
prying into your affairs?') — and — Frank, don't 
worry if it is about Bella Grayson. She is my 
own niece, — you may not know, — and I had a 
letter from her the other day." 

Amory almost started up in bed (capital 
nurse Mr. G. S. Brandon would make for a fever 
patient ordinarily, you are probably thinking), 
but thougli his eyes were full of eager inquiry 
and astonishment, he choked back the question 
that seemed to rise to his lips and simply stared 
at me, then with flushing cheeks turned quickly 
away. 

" I cannot explain just now ; try and be content 
with what I tell you for a day or two," I went 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 227 

on. " You can hear more when you are better. 
One thing I want to ask you for the benefit of the 
detectives who are looking for Peyton. How do 
you suppose you were so fortunate as to escape 
missing him and the other blackguard? "We 
found them just below the bridge to the right." 

" I don't know," was the weary reply. " Things 
were all in a whirl after I got that note. I re- 
member telling that fellow to say that I would be 
there without fail. Then it took some time to 
hurry up here and get my horse, and to write a 
line to mother; then I did not go straight out 
Canal Street. There were one or two things that 
had to be done ; but I rode like the devil to get 
there, and there wasn't a soul that I could see 
anywhere around the far end of the bridge." 

"But didn't you go down towards the lake, — 
to the right hand, I mean ?" 

" To the right ? No, of course not," said 
Amory. " He said to the south ; look at the note 
again and you'll find it; and I had that little 
compass there on my watch-chain. South was 
to the left, man, and, — why, it seems to me I 
rode all night; found myself in town and rode 
back to the swamps ; then gave it up and came 
home somehow; I don't know. It was all a 
blur." 

Then, fortunately, the doctor came back, and, 
with one glance at Amory's face, motioned to me 
that enough or more than enough had been said. 



228 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

I bent over Amory and said, with the best inten- 
tions in the world of being reassuring, " Re- 
member, do not fret about going North or about 
anything else of that kind ; thai is coming out 
all right." And with the profound conviction 
that it was coming out all right through his min- 
istration, the recorder of this curious tangle took 
his leave. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Two daj^s elapsed and Frank Amory failed to 
get better with the rapidity so slight an attack 
of fever should have permitted ; and when it is 
considered that my language had been, or ought 
to have been, very reassuring as regarded his 
other troubles, there seemed to me small warrant 
for the doctor's ascribing his slow rally to mental 
perturbations. It was beginning to dawn upon 
me that the doctor looked upon me as something 
of a sick-room nuisance ever since my interview 
with his patient about Peyton, and that only his 
politeness prevented his saying that that inter- 
view had been a decided set-back. At all events, 
two days passed without my again seeing Mars. 
He was sleeping when I called, or had had a rest- 
less night, and was not to be disturbed. Yet 
Parker saw him twice, and brought favor- 
able accounts; he seemed to have the luck of 
getting around at times when Amory was awake, 
and, being a cavalryman himself, the aide-de- 
camp had taken charge of the troop and was 
able to bear Aiiiory daily bulletins of its well- 
doing. Vinton was rapidly improving and able 
to sit up a few moments each day. Pauline was 

20 229 



230 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

radiant with hope and love ; and Kitty — whom 
I had not seen for nearly two days, when we met 
again at Moreau's — Kitty once more looked pale, 
anxious, and wistful; I saw it the instant her 
eyes met mine. 

Harrod told me that he had seen fit to say 
nothing to her of Peyton's latest escapade. It 
would not help matters at all and could only 
cause her distress. Pauline had heen told in 
confidence, and he himself had written full par- 
ticulars to the judge. The police had made no 
arrests or discoveries ; hut twice I had received 
visits from members of the detective force ask- 
ing for further description of the burly man who 
was with Peyton the night of the chase. The 
younger man, they seemed to think, had got 
away to Texas, but for some reason they seemed 
hopeful of catching the other party, who was 
apparently " wanted" for something for which 
he could properly be held. 

It was two nights after the theatre party, and 
once again we were dining at Moreau's ; this 
time reinforced by Pauline and by Major "Wil- 
liams. It was a lovely evening in the early 
spring. Already the breezes from the South 
were freighted with the faint, sweet fragrance 
of the orange-blossoms; windows \yere thrown 
open, and four of us at least were placidly en- 
joying the spirited scene on the street below. 
Pauline and the major were in the midst of a 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 231 

pleasant chat; Harrod and I dreamily puffing 
at our cigars; and over on the sofa Kitty and 
her now absolutely enslaved Turpin were oblivi- 
ous to all other objects. He, poor fellow, was 
bending towards her, his whole soul in his eyes, 
his whole heart on his lips ; speaking in low 
tones, eagerly, impetuously. She, with feverish 
flush on her soft cheeks, her eyes veiled by their 
white lids and fringed with their sweeping lashes, 
was nervously toying with her gloves, yet listen- 
ing, painfully listening. Harrod studied them 
an instant, then looked significantly at me. 

, " It is too bad," he said, with a shrug of his 
shoulders. " I suppose you see poor Turpin's 
woe ?" 

I nodded. It was hard for the boy, and Kitty 
was by no means blameless, but just now her 
conduct was the source of absolute comfort to 
me. In my fondness for Amory I was glad to 
see that now that it came to actual love-making, 
— now that Turpin was undoubtedly enmeshed 
and fluttering in her toils, the little coquette was 
distressed by his vehemence. She was thinking 
of another, and my hopes for my own young 
knight were high. There could be no doubt of 
the situation, for had we not gathered in honor 
of the major and his gallant young adjutant? 
"Were we not there to break bread once more 
before parting, — to wish them bon voyage with 
our stirrup-cups ? Their orders had come. Quiet 



232 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

restored to the Crescent City, Major Williams's 
little battalion was to return forthwith to their 
station in Kentucky. They were to start that 
night, and Turpin was facing his fate. 

It was soon time to walk down " homeward," 
as we had learned to think of Newhall's rooms 
on Royal Street. Harrod and I led the way. 
Major Williams followed, escorting Pauline. 
Kitty and Turpin silently took their places in the 
rear, and before we had gone three squares they 
were out of sight behind. At the steps the major 
said his farewells, with many a hope that we 
might all meet again in our wanderings. " Say 
good-by to Miss Carrington for me," he added, 
with a smile half sad, half mischievous. "I fear 
poor Turpin leaves his heart here. Tell him for 
me to take his time; he won't be needed for an 
hour yet." And with a wave of his hand the 
soldierly fellow strode 'down the street. 

Then, even as we stood there, Turpin and 
Kitty arrived. With her first glance at them 
Pauline's sympathetic heart seemed to realize 
the situation. She signalled to us to follow her, 
and entered at once. Unaccustomed as ever to 
the interpretation of feminine signals, I blunder- 
ingly stayed where I was, and Harrod hovered 
irresolutely in the doorway. 

"Won't you come in?" we heard her say 
timidly, almost pleadingly, as she held out her 
little hand. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 233 

*' No, thank you, not this time ; I must catch 
"Williams. Say good-by for me, please." He 
grasped her hand, and seemed to wring it hard 
an instant, then, pulling his cap down over his 
eyes, dashed away. 

Kitty stood one moment looking sorrowfully 
after him, then slowly passed us, and went in 
without a word. She did not appear again that 
evening so long as I was there. 

Early next morning a note reached me from 
Harrod. A telegram had just reached him from 
Sandbrook. " Father says he will be here to- 
morrow. Mrs. A.mory — Frank's mother — coming 
on same train." And, leaving everything undone 
that I ought to have done at the office, I hastened 
up to Amory's lodgings to see what that might 
mean. He was sitting up, partially dressed, and 
would be glad to see me, said the orderly ; and, 
stumbling up the stairs, I was shown to his room. 

Very pale and rather thin looked our Mars, 
but his face was brighter and his eyes far clearer. 
He was far from strong, however, and apologized 
for not rising, as he held out his hand. 

" Mother is coming," were almost his first 
words. 

" So I heard. Judge Summers telegraphed. 
Colonel Harrod that he would be here to-mor- 
row, — at noon, I suppose, — and that Mrs. Amory 
was on the train. What a very pleasant surprise 
for all !" 

20* 



234 KITTYS CONQUEST. 

" Yes. When she heard from me how ill 
Vinton was, and that I could not get away, the 
little mother must have made up her mind to 
come to me. It is a surprise, yet a very glad one. 
Where can we put her? This house is no place, 
and yet, it may be two or three days before I can 
get out, and I hate to have her alone at the St. 
Charles." 

" Why not with the Summers' at Colonel New- 
hall's place ? There are one or two rooms va- 
cant, and the landlady seems very pleasant." 

Mars flushed to the temples. 

" I think not," he said, hesitatingly. " It — it's 
too far away. She would rather be up here with 
me, or near me. She wants so much to know 
Vinton, too, — has such an admiration for him; 
but she could not see him just now, I suppose. 
How is he to-day ?" 

" Very much better last night. So much so 
that Miss Summers went over and dined with us 
at Moreau's, — a little dinner to Major Williams 
and Turpin, you know," said I, soothingly, and 
with calm note of the twinge which seemed to 
shoot over Amory's features at the mention of the 
party. " They went back to Kentucky last night, 
I suppose you know," I added. 

" They ? No, I didn't !" said Mars, with sud- 
den animation. " I wanted to see Turpin, too. 
He was here twice, but they said I wasn't well 
enough, or something, and he went away. Did 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 235 

he go back witli the battalion ?" he inquired, 
eagerl}-. 

" Certainly. He came around to say good-by 
last evening." 

Mars settled back in his chair with an expres- 
sion of absolute relief. 

Now, thought I, is the time to have a few 
words about Bella Grayson. It was just about 
time to look for the coming of her reply to my 
diplomatic letter, and very positively did I want 
to know just how matters stood between her 
and my cavalryman. Meddling old Polonius 
that I was, it seemed to me perfectly right and 
natural that Mars should reciprocate my warm 
interest in him, that he should want to tell 
me about Bella, and that the fact of my rela- 
tionship to her should give me an added lustre 
in his eyes. This last, perhaps, was realized. 
He was more inclined to be very courteous and 
semi-confidential in his tone, yet he was not at 
ease. 

It was at the tip of my tongue to make some 
genial, off-hand, matter-of-fact inquiry, such as 
" Heard from Bella, lately ?" by way of putting 
him entirely out of all embarrassment, when, 
fortunately, the orderly entered, saying a gentle- 
man asked to speak a moment with Mr. Brandon. 
Going out in some surprise to the landing, Mr. 
Brandon there encountered one of the detectives 
whom he had recently learned to know. 



236 KITTrS CONQUEST. 

" Can you come down to the office, sir ? We 
have one of your birds, if not both," was the 
extent of his communication. And dropping 
Amory ; forgetting Bella ; I went. 



CHAPTER XYI. 

An hour later, both Harrod Summers and my- 
self were curiously inspecting a pair of inebri- 
ated bipeds at the police station. Both were 
stolidly drunk, and were plunged in the heavy 
sleep that resulted from their excessive potations. 
One, the younger, was a tolerably well-dressed 
youth not absolutely unlike Peyton ; but all the 
same a total stranger. Neither of us had ever 
seen him before. But his companion — was Hank 
Smith. 

The two had been guilty of some drunken 
turbulence in a down-town saloon, said one of 
the police-officers, and had attracted the attention 
of the " force." In the course of a wordy alter- 
cation between them a detective had dropped in, 
and, after a few moments' apparently indifferent 
lounging and listening, had suddenly gone in 
search of a comrade, meantime bidding the offi- 
cer keep his eye on them. They were still drink- 
ing and squabbling when the detective returned. 
Smith was demanding payment of money which 
the other protested he had never received, and 
it was not long before the lie was given and 
a scuffle ensued. This was sufficient to enable 

237 



238 KITTrS CONQUEST. 

the officers to arrest them as drunk and disor- 
derly, and then to notify us. That Peyton was 
in some way connected with the sudden appear- 
ance of Hank Smith in the Crescent City neither 
^>f us could doubt for a minute, as Peyton's name, 
with many blasphemous qualifications, had been 
frequently mentioned in their altercation. It 
would be some hours before they could be iu 
condition to account for themselves and their 
motives ; meantime the colonel and I were de- 
voured with impatience and curiosity. The po- 
lice supposed that they had the big ruffian of our 
night adventure in the person of Smith, but he 
was not the man. His presence only added to 
the mystery. For several weeks after his trial 
at Jackson he had disappeared from our view and 
we had heard nothing of his movements. Now, 
what could have brought him here, and what 
connection had his wanderings with Peyton's ? 
I vainly puzzled over this problem while study- 
ing the flushed and sodden features of this arch- 
reprobate. Harrod went down home again to 
tell Vinton of the important capture. I had to 
go to the office at noon, but late in the day we 
were again at the station, and now, still bewil- 
dered and surly, but somewhat freshened by lib- 
eral applications of cold water from the pump, 
the ex-leader of the Tishomingo Ku-Klux was 
sitting up and chewing the cud of melancholy 
retrospect in place of the accustomed solace of 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 239 

" navy plug." Very ugly and ill at ease looked 
Hank as the colonel quietly accosted him. He 
knew us both at once and seemed not at all sur- 
prised at our presence. 

Our only object in intruding upon his valu- 
able time and his placid meditations being to 
find out what had become of Peyton, the ques- 
tion arose beforehand, who should question him ? 
Supposing that he would be disposed to conceal 
everything he might know, we had been plan- 
ning what course to pursue ; but his first remark 
put an end to our uncertainty. 

" I'm as well as a man can be who's just over 
a drunk and can't get a cocktail," he growled. 
" Have you come to pay me that money for 
Cap. Peyton ?" And his bloodshot eyes gleamed 
fiercely up at Harrod's calm features. 

" How much do you claim, Smith ?" was the 
evasive query. 

" He knows d — d well. It's a round five hun- 
dred dollars, and I'll foller him to Mexico but 
that I'll get it out of him, if you don't pay 
it." 

" Why did you not make him pay you yester- 
day ?" 

" Yesterday ?" said Hank, starting to his feet. 
" He ain't got back, has he ? If he's lied to 

me again, I'll Say, is he back?" he asked, 

eagerly. 

" I have not seen him yet," answered Harrod, 



240 KITTY'S CONqUEST. 

" and I do not wish to see liim. I want you to 
warn him never to show his face among us again, 
Now, supposing you are released to-night, how 
soon can you find him ?" 

" JFind him ? The young whelp ! He's tricked 
me. He's gone to Mexico, d — n him ! I came 
here two days ago to meet him as agreed. He 
was to pay me the money then, and said you was 
here to get it for him; and then, when I got here, 
he left word that he was in a scrape, and had to 
light out for Texas right away, and never said 
another word ahout the money, except that I 
might apply to him there for it (' him there' 
being the hedraggled-looking youth sitting up 
now on his wooden bench and staring stupidly 
about him), and — and this is what came of it, by 
God ! The money's mine, colonel, and I earned 
it fairly that last scrape he was in. He swore 
he'd pay me if we'd help him out. They'd have 
jailed him sure at Holly Springs if we hadn't 
stood by him. It took some of the hardest swear- 
ing you ever listened to to turn that marshal off 
his track." And Hank's face was woe-begone 
as this touching reminiscence occurred to him. 

"And that was the service your people ren- 
dered him, was it? You could have rendered 
his people a much better one by telling the truth 
and 'jailing him,' as you say. "What had he 
been doing to set the marshal on his track ?" 

Hank looked suspiciously at me a moment 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 241 

He was apparently ready to make a clean breast 
of matters to Harrod, but I was one of a class 
he regarded with distrust. Seeing this, Harrod 
glanced significantly at me, and I withdrew, 
leaving them to work out their own conclu- 
sions. 

Strolling up to headquarters and thence over 
to Amory's, I found him sleeping quietly and 
Parker reading the newspapers at his bedside. 
An enlivening conversation was not to be looked 
for in that quarter therefore, and on my speak- 
ing to Parker about a room for Mrs. Amory, 
who was to arrive on the following day, he re- 
plied that he had already secured one close at 
hand. This again left me with nothing especial 
to do, and in my loneliness and lack of occu- 
pation I went down to Royal Street, and came 
luckily upon a cheerful gathering at Newhall's, 
as we had learned to speak of the house wherein 
our Sandbrook party were quartered. 

It was a still, balmy evening, and Vinton's 
sofa had been trundled into the sitting-room. 
He lay there looking rather gaunt and white, 
but unutterably happy, for in a low chair by his 
side Miss Summers was seated, and she had evi- 
dently been reading aloud before my entrance, 
for a little blue-and-gold volume of Tennyson 
lay in her lap. Harrod and Kitty were seated 
at the centre-table near them, and rose to greet 
me as I entered, but the moment she had given 

L J 21 



242 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

me her little hand, with a rather emharrassed 
greeting, and I went forward to Vinton's sofa, 
Miss Kitty dropped back to the dim light of a 
distant corner. I had barely time to congratu- 
late the major on his convalescence when he in- 
quired eagerly for Amory. 

" I have just come from him," I answered. 
" He was sleeping quietly, and Mr. Parker was 
there with him. He will be all right now in a 
day or two. Mrs. Amory will be here to-mor- 
row, as you doubtless know, and Parker has 

taken a room for her at Madame R 's, close 

to headquarters." 

For some moments we four sat there talking 
quietly about her coming and its probable benefit 
to Amor3"'s health, which certainly had been suf- 
fering of late. Kitty still sat in her corner, ap- 
parently occupied with a magazine, though it 
was too dark to read at that distance from the 
lamp. Vinton, of course, was eager to hear all 
the particulars of the recent excitements, how- 
ever, and after a few moments he asked to be 
fully informed. 

" Yes, Brandon, tell him the whole thing. Do 
not spare Peyton. Do not imagine that it will 
shock Pauline, for I have told her all about it. 
Indeed, I may as well take the lead," said Har- 
rod, "and give you briefly what Smith confessed 
to me to-day. It was Peyton who planned and 
led that ambuscade on Amory's command. He 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 243 

ordered his party to try and pick off Amory 
himself, and but for the darkness they probably 
would have killed him. The fellow is a scoun- 
drel throughout, and I'm almost sorry he has 
escaped now. Smith says he has undoubtedly 
gone to Mexico, and most of the money with 
him. Now, Brandon, tell us your story." 

There was a rustle of skirts at the other end 
of the room. Pauline glanced wistfully over to 
Kitty's corner, and I could not help looking 
thither myself. Without a word the little lady 
had risen and left the room. 

Pauline rose hurriedly. "I must go to Kitty," 
she said. " She has been very much distressed 
about all this trouble of late, and she will worry 
herself to death." With that she, too, was gone; 
and Mr. Brandon, bereft of his feminine audi- 
ence, told his story with far less interest and en- 
joyment than he would otherwise have felt. 
Vinton was deeply interested, however, and 
greatly concerned over Amory's adventure. It 
was some time before Miss Summers' return, 
and then she brought Kitty's excuses. The latter 
had been persuaded finally to go to bed, for she 
was shocked inexpressibly at hearing that. Peyton 
had really had the hardihood to carry out the 
threat of that memorable day at Sandbrook. 
"And more than that, she is convinced that 
Peyton has been striving to harm Mr. Amory 
here in New Orleans, and I had to promise that 



244 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

she should know the whole truth. Is it so, Mr. 
Brandon ?" 

And once more Mr. Brandon had the gratifi- 
cation of relating that episode, and before an- 
other day poor Kitty was in possession of all the 
facts. 

And yet when I met her the following after- 
noon her eyes were bright; her color height- 
ened; her manner animated and almost gay. 
" So glad uncle was coming," was her explana- 
tion, and yet — she did not care to go to the sta- 
tion with Harrod, Pauline, and myself to meet 
uncle. This struck me as strange, and I ven- 
tured to urge her to accompany us. 

" Oh, no ! the carriage only holds four," was 
her reply. 

"But you will make the fourth, and you know 
I'm not coming back. I'm going to drive Mrs. 
Amory up to see her boy at once. He's sitting 
up in state ready to welcome her, and we had 
some difficulty in persuading him that he must 
not attempt to leave the house. You see there 
is abundant room, little lady, so why not come ?" 

" Thanks, I think not; I'm not ready to drive," 
was her confused answer; and yet I saw that she 
had been out. Her hat and gloves lay there 
upon the table. Her costume was perfect — and 
so was her determinq,tion. 

The carriage came and we drove ofi", leaving 
her smiling and kissing her hand gayly from the 



KITTF'S CONqUEST. 246 

balcony above our heads. Pauline glanced back 
lovingly at ber as we turned the corner. 

"Isn't she exquisite?" she said to Harrod, 
whose eyes, too, were fixed upon the fairy-like 
little figure until 'twas hidden from our sight, 

" Yes, and utterly incomprehensible. Last 
night she was in the depths of misery when she 
heard about Peyton's connection with that ras- 
cally business last December. Long after the 
rest of us had gone to bed, Pauline went in and 
told her the whole story of your night adven- 
ture and Peyton's further rascality, and, by 
Jove ! it acted like a counter-irritant. She has 
been in a whirl of spirits all morning; but, 
Paulie, she should not i ash out on the streets 
by herself. She was out nearly half an hour 
awhile ago." 

" 'Not out of sight, Harrod. I had her in view 
from the balcony." 

" What on earth could she find to do down on 
Royal Street for nearly half an hour without 
going out of sight ?" 

Pauline smiled demurely. " Merely making 
some purchases at the corner, I fancy." 

" At the corner ? Why, it's a cigar store." 

"I did not say in the corner, 31. le colonel 
Kitty is fond of oranges." 

" Then it took half an hour to buy half a dozen 
oranges of that old Dago at the fruit-stand, did 
it? Still, that does not account for her blithe 
21* 



246 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

spirits. One would think that having sent one 
adorer away heart-broken ; and another having 
vanished in disgrace (though that was but a boy 
and girl affair), and a third laid up as the result 
of the second's rascality ; a girl might be expected 
to suffer some pangs of remorse. I declare I 
believe some women have no more conscience 
than kittens, and our Kitty is one of them," said 
Harrod, half wrathfully. 

A moment's silence, then, — 

" Well, why should she not want to come and 
meet the judge ?" I asked, with blundering per- 
sistency. 

" And ivhy should she be bright as a button 
this afternoon ?" demanded Harrod. 

Pauline smiled with conscious superiority. " I 
can understand it readily, and am really sur- 
prised that you two profound thinkers should be 
so utterly in the dark. I'm not going to betray 
her, however; you ought to be able to see through 
it yourselves." And that silenced me completely. 
I record it with absolute humility that not until 
days afterwards was it made clear to me that 
when Pauline told Kitty the story of Amory's 
night-ride, the latter was able to account for the 
first time for his extraordinary conduct at Mo- 
reau's and the theatre; more than that, the child 
then knew what it was that had brought him in 
the dead of night to take one look at her window 
before going out to meet Peyton. As for her 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 247 

refusal to go to the depot, she simply felt unable 
to meet in that way Frank Araory's mother. 

The train came in on time. Harrod sprang 
aboard, and in another moment emerged from 
the Pullman escorting his gray-haired father, 
and with them appeared the pale, placid face I 
had so admired in the picture at Amory's tent. 
Dressed in black, though not in deep mourning, 
the gentle lady stepped from the car, and Miss 
Summers, who had extended her right hand, 
gave one swift glance in the peaceful eyes, then 
suddenly, impulsively, threw forward both ; and 
Harrod and I had abundant time to welcome the 
judge before either lady had a w'ord for us. 
When I turned again to look at them Mrs. 
Amory and Pauline were still standing hand in 
hand, and the latter's lovely face, flushed with 
happiness, and with eyes that glistened through 
the starting tears, was hardly more beautiful 
than the sweet, sorrow-worn features of her who 
had found " that peace which the w^orld cannot 
give," and in the sanctity of her bereaved life 
had learned the lesson of resignation, — the blessed 
hope of a blessed future. We would not inter- 
rupt them as they stood gazing into each other's 
eyes — the mother and her boy's devoted friend. 
It seemed best that from Pauline she should hear 
of Frank's improvement ; of his captain's con- 
valescence ; and that the bonds of sympathy that 
drew them in such close alliance should there be 



248 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

riveted without my customary interference ; but 
neither lady was forgetful of us, and turning to 
me, Mrs. Araory, in that soft, sweet voice men 
love to hear, — all the more winning for ita 
Southern accent, — asked, — 

" And is not this Mr. Brandon, my boy's 
friend ?" And then Mr. Brandon had the hap- 
piness of clasping her hand, and presently of 
leading her to her carriage. She was impatient 
to get to her son, and it was soon arranged that 
Pauline should drive up to see her later in the 
evening, and then we separated. Ten minutes 
more and the orderly opened the door, and, 
obedient to my beckoning finger, stepped out as 
the lady was ushered in. We only heard the 
glad ring in Frank's brave young voice ; one cry 
of " Mother !" and then we closed the door and 
left them together. 

An hour afterwards, Mr. Parker and I walked 
over from headquarters to pay our respects to 
Mrs. Amory and escort her to her lodgings, 

where hospitable Madame E, was waiting to 

welcome her and refresh her with tea. We found 
the doctor there in blithe chat with his patient 
and that now happy mother. Very sweet and 
gentle was her greeting for us. She seemed to 
know just what to say to each and every one, and 
charmed Parker at once, as she had me, by her 
lovelymanner and voice. Almost the first question 
was, " Can we not move Frank over with me ?" 



iCITTrS CONQUEST. 249 

But Mars protested. Here tie was right near 
his troop ; could hear the trumpet-calls and the 
voices of the men at times ; and so felt with them. 
The doctor would not let him go to duty for 
forty-eight hours at the least, — perhaps not 
then, — and he wanted to remain where he was. 

Parker laughingly oifered to come and occupy 
the room if he really thought an officer must be 
with the troop, and then the doctor said his say. 
A carriage could be there in ten minutes ; he was 
all dressed; he might just as well move over to 
Madame's, a square away ; be in comfortable 
quarters, and have his mother in the adjoining 
room. The project was decided on in spite of 
him. Parker scurried over to Camp Street, and 
came back with information that just such rooms as 
were needed were there in readiness, and when 
the carriage came, our boy was half lifted, half led, 
down the stairs, and correppondingly transferred 
to new and cosey quarters nearly opposite head- 
quarters. Some of the men brought over the 
trunk and his few belongings, but when it came 
time to start, Mars himself had stretched forth 
his hand and gathered in a beautiful bunch of 
sweet wild violets whose fragrance had filled the 
little room. I had noticed them on the table by 
his side the moment we entered, and now con- 
ceived it time to inquire whence they came. 

"I'm not quite sure," said Amory, with some- 
thing vastly like a blush. " They were left here 



250 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

an hour or so before mother came, and I think 
Miss Summers must have sent them." 

And yet that evening, when Pauline and Col- 
onel Summers came to see Mrs. Amory for a few- 
moments, I was still there. The violets were by 
Amory's bedside up-stairs ; Mrs. Amory made 
no allusion to them, but I did, unblushingly ; 
and neither affirming nor denying that she had 
sent them. Miss Summers silenced me by saying 
that she was glad they gave Mr. Amory pleasure, 
and instantly changed the subject and addressed 
her talk to her lady friend. Driving home, 
however, she was at my mercy and I again 
pressed the matter. A keen suspicion was actu- 
ally beginning to glimmer in my brain, 

" You sent those violets of course. Miss Sum ■ 
mers ?" 

" If so, why ask me, Mr. Brandon ?" 

" Well ! I)id7iH you, then ?" 

"IS'o, sir; I never even knew of their bemg 
sent." And Miss Summers was plainly and mis- 
chievously enjoying my perplexity. 

Leaving me at my rooms, the brother and sistei 
continued on their homeward wa}' and their en- 
thusiastic chat about Mrs. Amory, which my un- 
feeling curiosity had broken in upon. It waa 
quite late and my letters had been brought up 
from the office. First on the package was the 
one for which I was eagerly waiting, — the answer 
to my diplomatic missive to Bella Grayson. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 251 

Ignoring all others I plunged instanter into that, 
and was rewarded — as I deserved. 

'' Dear Uncle George," she wrote. — " It was 
such a treat and so rare an honor to receive a 
letter from your august hand, that for some time 
I could not believe it was intended for me at 
all. Indeed, to be veri/ frank, the closing page 
rather confirmed me in that impression. You 
men always taunt us by saying that the gist 
of a woman's letter lies in the postscript (one 
cynical acquaintance of mine went so far as to 
say that it lies all the way through), and yet not 
until that last page was reached did I discover 
the object of yours. Now, Uncle Georgy, isn't 
that circumlocution itself? Confess. 

" But you really do seem ' interested in young 
Amory,' as you call him ; and his ' evident admi- 
ration for a fair young friend of yours — an heir- 
ess — commands your entire sympathy.' What a 
cold-blooded, mercenary avowal, 3f. mon oncle! 
or, do you — is it possible that you mean — you 
too are interested in her ? No ! That is hardly 
tenable as a supposition. There is something so 
disingenuous about the rest of the letter that 
your interest is evidently on his account. Thank 
you ever so much for ' having half a mind to 
take me into your confidence.' And now, how 
can I dispel your perplexity ? "With the best in- 
tentions in the world, how powerless I am ! 



252 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

"■ You believe he has some lady correspondent 
up JSTorth. "Well, that strikes me as quite a 
reasonable supposition. Indeed, I have heard 
that most of them have ; but what — what did I 
ever say to lead to such a remark as this : ' Know- 
ing what susceptible fellows cadets are (from 
your own statements)'? What could I ever have 
said to give you such an impression ? Why, 
Uncle George, how should I know whether they 
are susceptible or not ? and how could you be so 
cruel as to allude to the dismal fact that I had 
been up there every summer for six or eight 
years, and am still Bella Grayson ? Does that 
look as though I thought them susceptible ? 

"But seriously; you say that Mr. Amory has 
become involved in ' some entanglement there 
from which he would now gladly escape,' and 
you fancy that Mr. Amory has done me the 
honor to make me his confidante; but herein 
you are mistaken. Certainly I have never heard 
a word from him of an ' entanglement,' nor do I 
remember his being devoted to any young girl 
in particular. Indeed, he struck me as being 
rather general in his attentions, what little I saw 
of him. It would be a great pleasure, no doubt, 
*to help him out of his boyish folly and into 
something worth having,' to use your own words, 
but indeed. Uncle George, you overrate my in- 
fluence entirely. 

" Nevertheless, I always liked Mr. Amory very 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 253 

much, and am greatly interested in his romance. 
Perhaps if you were to tell me what he said to 
make you think he wanted to escape from his 
Northern entanglement, I might be able to re- 
call some one of his flames to whom the remarks 
would be applicable. Tell me what you kiioWy 
and then my 'thinking-cap' may be put on to 
some advantage. Just now I'm much in the 
dark, and, except very casually indeed, have not 
heard from Mr. Amory for quite a while (How 
definite ! — G. S. B.), and as he never mentioned 
this new charmer to his ' confidante,' I am most 
curious to hear of her. Do tell me who she is, 
what she is like. Is she pretty ? of course that 
is the first question; is she — anything, every- 
thing, in fact? Do be a good Uncle Georg}^ 
and write. We were all so glad to hear from 
you, but as I answered, I shall expect an answer 
equally prompt. So write speedily to 

" Your loving niece, Bella." 

"When Mr. Brandon finally sought his bachelor 
pillow that night, it is regretfully recorded that 
he, like Dogberry, remembered that he was writ 
an ass. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

Two days after Mrs. Amory's arrival, I was 

seated in Madame R 's cosey parlor. Beside 

me in an easy-chair, and dressed in his fatigue 
uniform, was Mars. On the table beside him 
were two bunches of violets in their respective 
tumblers. One fresh and fragrant, the other 
faded and droopy. It was late in the afternoon; 
Mrs. Amory had gone with Mr. Parker in search 
of a little fresh air and exercise, and Mars had 
dropped his newspaper to give me a pleasant 
welcome. He was a little languid and tired, he 
said ; " had to write a long letter that morning." 
And here he looked very strangely at me, "but 
felt better now that 'twas gone." I could not 
but fancy that there was a constraint, a vaguely 
injured tone, in his quiet talk. There was a lack 
of the old, cordial ring in his voice, though he 
was every bit as courteous, even as friendly as 
ever. It was something that puzzled me, and I 
wanted to get at once at the why and wherefore, 
yet shrunk from questioning. 

Somehow or other my psychological investiga- 
tions and inquiries had not been crowned with 
brilliant success of late, and distrust had taken 

254 



KTTTV'S CONQUEST. 255 

the place of the serene contidence with which I 
used to encounter such problems. " Mother has 
taken the letter to post," he' said, " but will be 
back verj soon. I expect her any moment." 
As we were talking there came a ring at the 
bell. A servant passed the doorway, and in an 
instant reappeared ushering two ladies, Miss 
Summers followed by Kitty Carrington. 

" Why, Frank Amory ! How glad I am to 
see you up again !" was the delighted exclama- 
tion of the former, as she quickly stepped for- 
ward to take his hand ; " and here's Kitty," she 
added, with faintly tremulous tone. " We — Kitty 
hoped to see your mother, and they said she was 
here." 

" Mother will be back in a moment. How do 
you do. Miss Carrington ?" said Mars, looking 
around Pauline in unmistakable eagerness, and 
with coloring cheeks and brow, as he strove to 
rise and hold out his hand. 

"Don't try to get up, Mr. Amory," said Kitty, 
timidly, half imploringly, as with downcast eyes, 
and cheeks far more flushed than his own, she 
quickly stepped to his side; just touched his 
hand, and then dropped back to the sofa with- 
out 80 much as a word or glance for miserable 
me. For several minutes Pauline chatted gayly, 
as though striving to give every one time to re- 
gain composure. Kitty sat silently by ; once in 
awhile stealing timid, startled glances around; 



256 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

and listening nervously, as though for the coming 
footsteps of some one she dreaded to meet. Pau- 
line watched her with furtive uneasiness, and 
occasionally looked imploringly at me. 

To my masculine impenetrability there was 
only one point in the situation. Mrs. Amory 
had arrived here in town — a stranger. Miss 
Summers and Miss Carrington were not exactly 
old residents, but were " to the manner born," 
and it behooved them both to call upon the older 
lady. Why should there be any cause for em- 
barrassment ? "Why should Kitty look ill at 
ease, nervous, distressed ? Why should Mars be 
so unusually excited and flighty ? What was 
there about the whole proceeding to upset any 
one's equanimity ? What incomprehensible mys- 
teries women were anyhow ! Bella Grayson es- 
pecially I What dolts they made men appear in 
trying to conform to their whims and vagaries ! 
What a labor of Hercules it was to attempt to 

fathom their moods ! What The door 

opened and in came Mrs. Amory and Parker. 
All rose to greet them, and I could see that Kitty, 
pale as a sheet, was trembling from head to foot. 

At least I had sense enough to appreciate and 
admire once more the grace and tact and genuine 
kindliness that seemed to illumine every act and 
word of this gracious lady. Mrs. Amory went 
at once to Kitty ; greeted her in the same low- 
toned yet cordial voice that had already become the 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 257 

subject of our admiring talk ; then, after a brief 
word with each of us, had taken her seat with 
Kitty upon the sofa, and in five minutes had so 
completely won the trust and confidence of that 
nervous little body that her color had returned 
in ah its brilliancy; her lovely dark eyes were 
sparkling with animation and interest; and 
though she talked but little, we could all see that 
she was charmed with Mrs. Amory's manner, 
and that she drank in every word with unflagging 
pleasure. 

Mars, though keeping up a desultory talk with 
Miss Summers and Parker, managed to cast fre- 
quent glances at the pair on the sofa, and it was 
a comfort to watch the joy that kindled in his 
young eyes. Pauline seemed to divine his wish 
to watch them, and frequently took the load ot 
conversation from his shoulders by absorbing the 
attention of the aide-de-camp and myself, and 
this gave him the longed-for opportunity to listen 
once in a while to the talk between his mother 
and Kitty. Once, glancing furtively towards his 
chair, Kitty's eyes had encountered his fixed in- 
tently upon her, whereat the color flashed again 
to the roots of her hair, and the long lashes and 
white lids dropped instantly over her betraying 
orbs. From that marvellous and intricate ency- 
clopaedia of family history, a Southern woman's 
brain, Mrs. Amory had brought forth an array 
of facts regarding Kitty's relatives that fairly de- 

r 22* 



258 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

lighted that little damsel with its interest. Some- 
where in the distant past a North Carolina Ward 
had married a Kentucky Carrington ; and while 
she herself had married an officer of the army, 
her sister had married a Ward; and so it went. 
Mrs. Amory could tell Kitty just where and 
wdiom her people had married from the days of 
Daniel Boone. The chat went blithely on, and 
BO, when Miss Summers smilingly rose and said 
that it was time to go, Kitty looked startled and 
incredulous, — the dreaded interview had been a 
genuine pleasure to her. Mars arose and stood 
erect as the ladies were saying their adieux. 
Pauline was saying to Mrs. Amory that by the 
next day Major Vinton would hope to be able to 
drive out for the air, and as soon as possible 
would come to see her ; and this left Kitty for an 
instant unoccupied. Her eyes would not wander 
in his direction, however; and after an instant's 
irresolute pause he stepped beside her, so that, 
as they turned to go, she Iiad to see his out- 
stretched hand. I wanted to see what was to 
follow, but Parker and I had sidled towards the 
door to escort the ladies to their carriage. Miss 
Summers caught my eyes ; seemed instantly to 
read my vile curiosity, for, with a smile that was 
absolutely mischievous, she placed herself be- 
tween me and Kitty, who was last to leave the 
room. I only saw him bend low over her hand ; 
could not catch a word he said, and was calmly 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 259 

surged out into the hall with ungratified and 
baffled spirit. It was cruel in Pauline. She 
ought to have known that I was even more inter- 
ested in the aiFair than any w^oman could have 
been. 

" What do you think of Mrs. Amory ?" I deli- 
cately and appropriately asked Miss Kitty as we 
drove down-town. She was in a revery, and not 
disposed to talk ; and Miss Summers, who had 
invited me to take a seat in their carriage, had 
given me no opportunity of breaking in upon 
her meditations until this moment. Kitty started 
from her dream ; flashed one quick glance at me, 
as she answered, — 

" Mrs. Amory ? I think she's lovely" then as 
quickly relapsed into her fit of abstraction. Evi- 
dently Mr. Brandon's well-meant interruptions 
were not especially welcome there ; then, as we 
reached the house on Royal Street, Major Vinton, 
seated at the window, waved us [us indeed !) a 
joyous greeting, and, despite Miss Summers' 
most courteous invitation to come in a while, Mr. 
Brandon felt that he had been interloping long 
enough, and having thus partially come to his 
senses, the narrator walked dolefully away. 

In the week that followed, there were almost 
daily visits between the ladies of the Royal and 
Camp Street households. Vinton had sufficiently 
improved to be able to drive out every day and 
to take very short walks, accompanied by his radi- 



260 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

ant JiancSe. Much mysterious shopping was going 
on, Mrs. Amory and Kitty being occupied for 
some hours each bright morning in accompany- 
ing Miss Summers on her Canal Street re- 
searches. Mars had returned to duty with his 
troop, and almost every evening could be seen 
riding down to Royal Street to report to his cap- 
tain how matters were progressing. I was struck 
by the regularity and precision with which those 
reports seemed to be necessary, and the absolute 
brevity of their rendition. Having nothing better 
to do, as I fancied, I was frequently there at 
Royal Street when Mars would come trotting 
down the block pavement. Each evening seemed 
to add to the spring and activity with which he 
would vault from the saddle ; toss the reins to 
his attendant orderly, and come leaping up the 
steps to the second floor. " All serene" was the 
customary extent of his report to Vinton, who 
was almost invariably playing backgammon with 
Miss Summers at that hour; while the judge, 
Harrod, and I would be discussing the affairs of 
the day in a distant corner. This left Kitty the 
only unoccupied creature in the room, unless the 
listless interest bestowed upon the book she held 
in her lap could be termed occupation. What 
more natural, therefore, than that Mr. Amory 
should turn to her for conversation and enter- 
tainment on his arrival ? And then Kitty had 
improved so in health and spirits of late. She 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 201 

was so blithe and gay; humming little snatches 
of song; dancing about the old house like a 
sprite ; striving very hard to settle down and be 
demure when I came to see the judge ; and never 
entirely succeeding until Amory appeared, when 
she was the personification of maidenly reserve 
and propriety. Occasionally Mars would escort 
his mother down, and then there would be a 
joyous gathering, for we had all learned to love 
her by this time ; and as for Vinton — Miss Sum- 
mers once impetuously declared that she was 
with good reason becoming jealous. When she 
came, Kitty would quit her customary post on the 
sofa ; take a low chair, and actually hang about 
Mrs. Amory's knees ; and all Mars' chances for a 
tete-a-ttte were gone. Nevertheless, he was losing 
much of the old shyness, and apparently learn- 
ing to lose himself in her society, and to be pro- 
foundly discontented when she was away ; and 
one lovely evening a funny thing happened. 
There was to be a procession of some kind on 
Canal Street, — no city in the world can compete 
with New Orleans in the number and variety of 
its processions, — and as the bands were playing 
brilliantly over towards the St. Charles, Vinton 
proposed that we should stroll thither and hear 
the music. The judge offered his arm with his 
old-fashioned, courtly grace to Mrs. Amory; 
Vinton, of course, claimed Pauline ; Harrod 
and I fell back together ; and Amory and Kitty 



262 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

paired off both by force of circumstances and his 
own evident inclination. Once on the banquette^ 
Araory showed a disposition to linger behind and 
take the rear with his sweet companion, but Miss 
Kit would none of it. With feminine inconsist- 
ency and coquettishness she fairly took the lead, 
and so it resulted that she and Amory headed 
instead of followed the party. Plainly Mars was 
a little miffed ; but he bore up gallantly, and had 
a most unexpected and delightful revenge. 

At the very first crossing, something of a crowd 
had gathered about the cigar store, and so it re- 
sulted for a moment that our party was brought 
to a stand, all in a bunch, right by the old Dago's 
orange counter to which Harrod had made dis- 
dainful allusion in connection with Kitty's mys- 
terious mission of the previous week ; and now, 
close beside the counter, there was seated a chatty 
old negress with a great basket before her heaped 
with violets : some in tiny knots, others in loose 
fragrant pyramids. The instant she caught sight 
of Kitty her face beamed with delight. She 
eagerly held forward her basket; Kitty struggled 
as though to push ahead through the throng on 
the narrow pavement, but all to no purpose. She 
could not move an inch; and there, imprisoned, 
the little beauty, bewildered with confusion and 
dismay, was forced to hear what we all heard, 
the half-laughing, half-reproachful appeal of the 
darky flower-vender. 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 263 

" Ah, lady ! you doan' come to me no mo' for 
vi'lets now de captain's up agin." And there 
was no help for it ; one and all we burst into a 
peal of merry laughter ; even poor Kitty, though 
she stamped her foot with vexation and turned 
away in vehement wrath. And oh ! how proud, 
wild with delight Frank Amory looked as he 
bent over her and strove to make some diversion 
in her favor by boring a way through the crowd 
and hurrying her along ! We could see him all 
the rest of the evening striving hard to make her 
forget that which he never could. But Kitty had 
only one feminine method of revenging herself, 
and that was on him. Womanlike, she was cold 
and distant to him all the evening; left him at 
every possible opportunity to lavish attentions on 
anybody else, — even me ; and after all Mars went 
home that night looking far from happy. 

'No sooner was he out of the house than Harrod 
turned to me with an expression of inspired 
idiocy on his face and said, " What was it you 
were all laughing &t up there at the corner, — 
something about violets and captains ?" 

Whereat Kitty flounced indignantly out of the 
room, and we saw her no more that night. 

But all this time not another word had I heard 
from Bella Grayson. In fact, not a word had 
I written to her. She had parried the verbal 
thrusts in my letter with such consummate ease 
and skill that it occurred to me I was no match 



264 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

for her in that sort of diplomacy. N'ow the 
question that was agitating my mind was, how 
was Mars to get out of that entanglement if it 
really existed ? My efforts in his behalf did not 
seem to be rewarded with the brilliant and im- 
mediate success that such depth of tact had de- 
served ; and, my intervention being of no avail, 
what could he expect ? 

Fancy the surprise, therefore, with which I 
received on the following day a visit from Mars 
himself. It was late in the afternoon ; I was 
alone in the office and hard at work finishing 
some long neglected business, when the door 
opened and my young cavalryman appeared. 

He shook my hand cordially ; said that he had 
come to see me on personal business ; and asked 
if I could give him half an hour. I gladly said 
yes, and, noting his heightened color and his 
evident embarrassment, bade him pull up a chair 
and talk to me as he would to an old chum. I 
can best give his story in nearly his own words. 

" Mother says I owe it to you, Mr. Brandon, 
to tell you what has been on my mind so long. 
You have been very kind and very indulgent, 
and I wish I had told you my trouble long ago. 
I'll make it short as I can." And with many a 
painful blush — but with manful purpose and 
earnestness — Mars pushed ahead. 

" I met Miss Grayson, your niece, during ray 
first class summer at West Point, and got to ad- 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 265 

mire her, as everybody else did. I got to more 
than admire her. She absolutely fascinated me. 
I don't mean that she tried to in the least, — she 
just couldn't help it. Before camp was half over 
I was just beside myself about her; couldn't be 
content if I didn't see her every day; take her 
to the hops, and devote myself generally. Every 
man in the class thought I was dead in love with 
her. Mr. Brandon, I — I did myself. I never 
ceased to think so — until last — until after that 
Ku-Klux fight at Sandbrook. I made her think 
so. She really tried to talk me out of it at first, 
— she did indeed. She said that it was simply a 
fancy that I would soon outgrow ; and she never 
for once could be induced to say that she cared 
anything for me. She was always lovely and 
ladylike, always perfect, it seemed to me. She 
even went so far as to remind me that she was 
as old as I was, and far older in the ways of the 
world, and cadets especially. She never encour- 
aged me one bit, and I just went on getting 
more and more in love with her all that year ; 
used to write to her three or four times a week ; 
dozens of letters that she only occasionally an- 
swered. Then she came up in June, and I was 
incessantly at her side. She might not. care for 
me, but she did not seem to care for anybody 
else, and so it went on. She would not take my 
class ring when I begged her to that summer. 
She wore it a few days, but made me take it 

U 23 



266 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

back the day we graduates went away; but I 
went back that summer to see her twice, and 
when I came away I swore that after I'd been in 
service a year I would return to New York to 
ofFer myself again ; and we used to write to each 
other that winter, only her letters were not like 
mine. They were nice and friendly and all 
that, — still, I knew she had my promise. I 
thought she would expect me to come back. I 
felt engaged so far as I was concerned; then 
when I got wounded her letters grew far more 
interested, you know (Mr. Brandon nodded ap- 
preciatively) ; and then they began to come 
often ; and, whether it was that she thought our 
life was very hazardous, or that the climate was 
going to be a bad thing for me, or that I would 
not recover rapidly there, her letters began to 
urge me to come North. I got two at Sand- 
brook — one the very day you were there at the 
tent — and two since we came here; and then — 
then I found only too surely that it was not love 
I felt for her; indeed, that I had grown to love — 
you know well enough (almost defiantly) — Miss 
Carrington. I felt in honor bound to carry out 
my promise to Miss Grayson, and to avoid — to — 
well, to be true to my promise in every way. 
But I was utterly miserable. Mother detected 
it in my letters, and at last I broke down and 
told her the truth. She said there was only one 
honorable course for me to pursue, and that was 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 267 

to write to Miss Grayson and tell her the same, 
tell her the whole truth ; and it was an awful 
wrench, but I did it that day you were at the 
house. It came hard too, for only the day be- 
fore a letter came from her full of all sorts of 
queer things. A little bird had whispered that, 
like all the rest, I had found my cadet attach- 
ment something to be forgotten with the gray 
foat and bell buttons. She had heard this, that, 
and the other thing; she would not reproach. 
It was only what she had predicted all along, 
etc., and it cut me up like blazes; but mother 
smiled quietly when I told her, said that I mast 
expect to be handled without gloves, and warned 
me that I must look for very just comments on 
my conduct;, and then somehow I decided that 
you had written to her about me. You said 
nothing to make me think so, and altogether I 
was in an awful stew until this morning." 

" And what now ?" I asked, eagerly. 

" Her answer came. Brandon, she's a trump; 
she's a gem ; and so's her letter. Mother's got 
it, and is writing to her herself. I'm inexpress- 
ibly humbled, but somehow or other happier 
than I've ever been." And the boy and I shook 
hands warmly, and Mr. Brandon bethought him- 
self that that blessed Bella should have the love- 
liest Easter present the avuncular purse could 
buy. 

" What did Bella say ?" he asked. 



268 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

" Oh ! I can't quite tell you. It was all just 
so sweet and warm- hearted and congratulatory 
(though that is possibly premature), and just as 
lovely a letter as ever was written." 

" And we may look for two weddings in the 
— th Cavalry, then ?" 

But Mars' features clouded. " Vinton and 
Miss Summers will be married next month ; for 
Vinton says we may expect to be ordered to the 
plains with the coming of summer, but no such 
luck for me. I have precious little hope just 
now." 

" And has Miss Carrington heard of our 
Bella?" I asked, mischievously. 

" Good heavens ! I hope not. That would be 
the death-blow to everything." 

Yes, it struck me that there would be a weapon 
that Miss Kit would use with merciless power. 



CHAPTER XVIIL » 

It was a gala night at the opera. The grand 
old house, so perfect in acoustic properties, so 
comfortably old-fashioned in design, so quaintly 
foreign in all its appointments, was tilled with an 
audience composed of the music-loving people 
of New Orleans, and a sprinkling of Northern 
visitors still lingering amid the balmy odors of 
the magnolia and the orange-blossoms. Spring 
had come, — summer was coming. The sun was 
already high and warm enough to warrant the ap- 
pearance of parasols by day ; while, after it sank 
to rest, the ray-warmed breezes were welcomed 
through open door and casement; and in hun- 
dreds of slender hands the fan, swung and flirted 
with the indolent grace our Southern women 
have so readily learned from their Castilian sis- 
terhood across the sea, stirred the perfumed air, 
and rustled soft accompaniment to the witchery 
of the music. 

Entering that old French opera-house on 
Bourbon Street, one steps on foreign soil. 
America is left behind. French is the lano-uao-e 
of every sign, of the libretto, even of the pro- 
gramme. French only is or was then spoken by 
23* 269 



270 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

the employes of the house. French the orches- 
tra, the chorus, the language of the play. French, 
everything but the music. The ornamentation 
of the house, the arrangement of the boxes, the 
very division of the audience was the design of 
foreign hands, and here, more readily than any- 
where in our land, could one imagine oneself 
abroad. 

These were days of triumph for the stockhold- 
ers of the old company. The somewhat over- 
gilded and too ornate decorations might have 
lost much of their freshness, the upholstery 
had grown worn and faded ; but the orchestra 
and the company were admirable. Aiming at 
perfection and completeness in all details, the 
managers had kept up the old system of putting 
everything thoroughly upon the stage. Costumes 
and properties, though old, were accurate and 
appropriate ; the chorus was full, admirably 
schooled and disciplined; and the orchestra, in 
the days when Calabresi's baton called it into life, 
had no superior in the country. Instead of lav- 
ishing fortunes on some one marvellous prima 
donna and concomitant tenor, the aim of the 
management had been to secure excellent voices, 
good actors, conscientious artists, and so be sure 
of rendering an opera in its entirety, — every part 
well and suitably filled, instead of turning the 
grand creations of the great composers into mere 
concert recitations. One heard the opera in Kew 



KITTF'S COX QUEST. 271 

Orleans as he heard it nowhere else in the coun- 
try, and there, and there only of all its places of 
public amusement, could one see in full force the 
culture and the refinement of the Crescent City. 

It was a " full dress" night. The parquet was 
filled wath men in the conventional black swal- 
low-tail. The dress and second circles of open 
boxes, the loges behind them, were brilliant with 
the toilets of beautifully-dressed women ; and in 
one of these latter enclosures were seated Miss 
Summers and Kitty, behind whom could be seen 
Vinton, Amory, and Harrod. 

Leaving my seat in the parquet, I strolled up 
to their box immediately after the curtain fell 
upon the first act of " The Huguenots." Some 
forty-eight hours had passed since my meeting 
with Mars, and that vivid curiosity of mine was 
all aflame as to the later developments. Both 
ladies turned and gave me cordial welcome as I 
entered. Vinton made room for me behind Miss 
Summers' chair, and Harrod strolled out to see 
some friends. 

Though both officers were in civilian evening 
dress, the story of Pauline's engagement was 
known among the few acquaintances she had in 
society, and her escort, a stranger to the city, 
was doubtless assumed to be the Yankee major. 
It was too soon after the war for such an alliance 
to be looked on with favor by those who had re- 
cently been in bitter hostility to the army blue, 



272 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

and tbe few glances or nods of recognition that 
passed between Miss Summers and a party of 
ladies in an adjoining box were constrained — 
even cold. To my proud-spirited friend this was 
a matter of little consequence. If anything, it 
servBd only the more deeply and firmly to attach 
her to the gallant gentleman, still pale and lan- 
guid from his recent illness, who so devotedly hov- 
ered about her the entire evening. Her sweet, 
womanly face was full of the deepest tenderness 
as she leaned back to speak to him from time to 
time, and soon, with woman's quick intuition, 
observing that I was anxious to watch Kitty and 
Mars, she delightedly resigned herself to my ab- 
straction and gave her undivided attention to 
Vinton. 

jSTever in my brief acquaintance with her had 
Xitty Carrington looked so bewitchingly pretty. 
Never were her eyes so deep, dark, lustrous ; 
never — I could plainly see — so dangerous. N^ever 
was her color so brilliant, never were her lips so 
red, her teeth so flashingly white ; and never ^^et 
had I seen her when all her fascinations were so 
mercilessly levelled at a victim's heart, even while 
she Lsrself was tormenting him to the extent of 
every feminine ingenuity. The situation was 
plain at a single glance. 

Her greeting to me had been coquettishly cor- 
dial, and for a moment she looked as though she 
expected me to accept Mr. Amory's proliered 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 273 

chair at lier back. But Mars had risen with so 
rueful a look in his eyes — something- so appealing 
and wistful in his bearing — that I had the decency 
to decline; and with vast relief of manner he slid 
back into his seat, and the torment went on. 

In low, eager tones he was murmuring to her 
over the back of her chair. She — with head half 
turned, so that one little ear, pink and shell-like, 
was temptingly near his lips — was listening with 
an air of saucy triumph to his pleadings, — what- 
ever they were, — her long lashes sweeping down 
over her flushed cheeks, and her eyes, only at 
intervals, shooting sidelong glances at him. 
What he was saying I could not hear, but never 
saw I man so plunged in the depths of fascina- 
tion. His eyes never left their adoring gaze 
upon her face, yet they were full of trouble, full 
of pleading that might have moved a heart of 
stone. But Kitty was merciless. At last there 
came a bubble of soft, silvery laughter and the 
mischievous inquiry, — 

" And how should a lady answer ? How — 
Miss Grayson, for instance?" 

For a moment there was no word of reply. 
Amory sat like one in a daze. Then very slowly 
he drew back, and I could see that his hand 
was clinched and that his bright young face had 
paled. Alarmed at his silence, toying nervously 
T\dth her fan, she strove to see his eyes, yet dared 
not look around. Mars slowly rose to his feet, 



274 KITTV'S CONQUEST. 

bent calmly over 'her, and, thougli his voice 
trembled and his lips were very white, he spoke 
distinctly, even cuttingly, — 

'•'Miss Grayson would have answered at least 
with courtesy and — good-night. Miss Carring- 
ton." 

And before another word could be said he had 
quickly bowed to the rest of us and abruptly 
quitted the box. 

Evidently she had tormented him until his 
quick, impulsive, boyish nature could bear it no 
longer, — until his spirit had taken fire at her 
merciless coquetry, — and then, giving her no 
chance to retract or relent, he had vanished in 
choking indignation. Kitty sat still as a statue 
one little minute, turning from red to white. 
Pauline, who had heard only Amorj^'s sudden 
words of farewell, looked wonderingly up an in- 
stant, then seeing plainly that there had been a 
misunderstanding, and that remark or interfer- 
ence would only complicate matters, she wisely 
turned back to Vinton, and the rising of the cur- 
tain gave all an excuse to concentrate their eyes, 
if not their thoughts, upon the stage. 

But the opera was an old story to me. Kitty 
was a novelty, a study of constantly varjnng 
phases, a picture I never tired of gazing at, and 
now she was becoming even more — a perfect fas- 
cination. Pauline glanced furtively, anxiously, 
at her from time to time, but I, — I most un 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 275 

blushingly watched and stared. She was mani- 
festly ill at ease and grievously disquieted at the 
result of her coquetry. Her brilliant color had 
"fled. Her eyes, suspiciously moistened, wan- 
dered nervously about the house, as though 
searching for her vanished knight, that they 
might flash their signal of recall. I, too, kept 
an eye on the parquet and the lobby, far as I 
could see, vaguely hoping that Mars might re- 
lent and take refuge there, when his wrath would 
have time to cool, and he could be within range 
of her fluttering summons to " come back and 
be forgiven." But the second act came to a 
close. Mars never once appeared. Vinton and 
Miss Summers once or twice addressed some 
tentative remark to Kitty, as though to bring 
her again into the general conversation and 
cover her evident distress ; but monosyllabic re- 
plies and quivering lips were her only answer. 
I began to grow nervous, and decided to sally 
forth in search of my peppery hero. My minis- 
trations had been vastly potent and diplomatic 
thus far, and might be again. So, with a word 
or two of excuse, I made my bow and strolled 
into the foyer. 

One or two acquaintances detained me a few 
moments, but during the intermission between 
the acts I was able to satisfy myself that Mr. 
Amory was no longer in the house. Indeed, 
Bome of the officers stationed in town told me 



276 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

that they had seen him crossing the street just aa 
they re-entered. Presently I met Colonel New- 
hall, and his first question was, — 

" How is Vinton to-night ?" 

" Very well, apparently. Do you want to see 
him ?" 

"Not particularly. He is here, I believe. 
You might tell him that his sick-leave is granted. 
It may be welcome news to him — just now." 

" Naturally : as he expects to be married next 
month." 

" Yes. I'm glad he got the leave — when he 
did," said the colonel, as he turned away to speak 
to some friends. 

Something in his manner set me to thinking. 
What could he mean by saying that he was glad 
Vinton had secured his leave of absence ? Was 
any sudden move probable ? Amory did say 
that it was current talk that their regiment was 
to be ordered to the frontier in the spring. Could 
it be that the order had already come? 

I went back to the box. Kitty looked eagerly 
around as I entered, then turned back in evident 
disappointment. Not a word was exchanged be- 
tween us until the close of the act ; but for two 
occupants of the loge " The Huguenots" had lost 
all interest. 

It was eleven o'clock and after as we reached 
the lodgings on our return from the opera. 
Mars had nowhere appeared, though Kitty's 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 277 

eyes sought him in the throng at the doorway, 
and, as we drew near the house, she looked 
eagerly ahead at a soldierly form in cavalry un- 
dress uniform. A corporal of the troop was 
lounging under the gas-light at the entrance. 
The moment he caught sight of our party he 
stepped forward and handed Yinton a letter. 

There was nothing unusual about a letter ar- 
riving for Major Vinton — day or night. Order- 
lies came frequently to the old house on Royal 
Street with bulky missives for him ; yet I felt a 
premonition in some inexplicable way that this 
was no ordinary communication. It was a mere 
note, and I thought the corporal said, " From the 
lieutenant, sir." Yet I knew it meant tidings of 
importance, — and so did others. 

Miss Summers had withdrawn her hand from 
Yinton's arm as he took the note, and with deep 
anxiety in her paling face stood watching him as 
he opened and read it under the lamp. Kitty 
too had stepped forward, and, resting one little 
hand on the stone post at the doorway, gazed 
with equal intensity and a face that was paler yet 
than her cousin's. Harrod and I, a little behind 
them, were silent witnesses. Presently Yinton 
looked up, his eyes seeking the face he loved. 

" What is it?" she asked. 

" Our orders have come." 

For an instant no one spoke. I could not take 
my eyes off Kitty, whose back was towards me, 

24 



278 KITTTS CONQUEST. 

but who I could see was struggling hard for 
composure. Pauline instinctively put forth her 
hand, drawing Kitty closer to her side. 

" Shall I read it?" asked Vinton, gently, look- 
ing at Pauline, after one hurried glance at Kitty. 
She nodded assent. 

" It is from Amor}- ," he said. 

" Dear Major, — Parker has just met me. The 
orders are out. Regiment ordered to Dakota. 
Our troop goes by first boat to St. Louis. Your 
leave is granted, so it does not affect you ; but — 
I'm glad to go. Parker says by ' James Howard' 
to-morrow night. 

" Yours in haste, 

" Amory " 

Without a word Kitty Carrington turned from 
us and hurried into the house. 

" What on earth could take the regiment to 
Dakota ?" asked Harrod, after a moment of si- 
lence. 

" The Sioux have been troublesome all along 
the Missouri and Yellowstone of late, and this 
is anything but unexpected. We had a lively 
campaign against the Southern Cheyennes, yoa 
remember, and this promises more work of the 
same kind, only much farther north." 

Pauline's eyes were filling with tears. I was 
plainly de trop, and had sense enough left to ap- 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 279 

predate that fact at least. Promising to meet 
Vinton at headquarters in the morning, 1 took 
my departure. I had made up my mind, late as 
it was, to go and see Amory ; and, late as it was, 
I found him in earnest talk with his mother. 

" Can you spare me a moment ?" I asked. " I 
have just heard the news, and if it he true you 
sail to-morrow night, you will be too much occu- 
pied to-morrow." 

He had come to the door to admit me, and 
looked reluctantly back. Hearing my voice, Mrs. 
Amory came into the hall to greet me, and cour- 
teously as ever she asked me to enter ; but I saw 
the traces of tears on her face, and knew that 
their time was precious. 

" I want to have a moment's talk with this 
young man, Mrs. Amory. I will not take him 
farther than the corner, and will not keep him 
longer than five minutes at the utmost. Can you 
spare him that long ?" 

She smiled assent, but Mars hung back. He 
knew well that I was once again coming forward 
with some intervention, and his blood was up, 
his anger still aglow ; but I was not to be denied. 
He seized his forage-cap and stepped out with 
me into the starlit night. 

" There is no time for apologies from an old 
fellow like me, Amory," said I, placing a hand 
involuntarily on his shoulder. " Forgive me if 
I pain you, or am too intrusive. I heard what 



280 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

happened at the opera to-night. "Would you be 
willing to tell me how she came to know any- 
thing about Bella Grayson ?" 

" I told Miss Carrington myself," said Mars, 
rather shortly ; and his hands went down in his 
pockets, and a very set look came into his face 
as he kicked at a projecting ledge in the uneven 
pavement. 

"You know how I've grown to like you, 
youngster, and must know that I can have no 
other impulse or excuse in thus meddling with 
your affairs. I'm fond of her too, Frank, and 
have seen enough to-night — and before — to con- 
vince me that she would give a vast deal to unsay 
those thoughtless words. I do not excuse her 
conduct ; but she never for an instant could have 
dreamed of its effect, and it did not take the 
news of your order to make her repent it bitterly. 
I could see that plainly. Amory, don't go without 
seeing her." 

Mars made no reply whatever. 

" Have you told your mother of this misunder- 
standing ?" I asked. 

"Not exactly. I have told her — she saw 1 
was cut up about something and asked — that 
something had been said that was very hard to 
bear, but that I had rather not talk of it now. 
I was too much hurt." 

" "Well. Then I must say nothing further, my 
boy ; but if I may ask anything for the sake of 



KITTY'S CONqUEST. 281 

the friendship I feel for you and for them, tell 
your mother the whole aifair, and let her guide 
your action. Now, forgive me, and good-night. 
"We will meet in the morning." 

He pressed my hand cordially enough, but still 
made no reply to my request. " Thank you, Mr. 
Brandon; good-night," was all he said, and Mr. 
Brandon walked gloomily homeward. Amantium 
ir(E might be easy things to settle if left to the 
participants, but were vastly easier to stumble 
into. 

Clear, cloudless, lovely dawned the morrow, 
and long before office hours I had breakfasted 
and betaken myself to headquarters. Mr. Parker 
was there, and Amory had been at the office, but 
Vinton had as yet put in no appearance. My 
first question was as to the probable time of de- 
parture of the troop, and Parker's tidings filled 
me with hope. The quartermaster had been un- 
able to secure transportation for the horses in 
the " Howard." The troops could not sail be- 
fore the following day. Meantime, he said, there 
was to be a review of the small force in the city 
that very afternoon, and the general had ex- 
pressed a desire to have a look at the cavalry 
once more before they started for their new 
and distant sphere of duty. It was his favor- 
ite arm of the service, and he hated to part with 
them. 

By and by the general himself arrived, and 

24* 



282 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

Major Vinton happening in at almost the samo 
moment, " the chief" led the latter into his pri- 
vate office and held him there for over half an 
hour in conversation. An orderly was despatched 
for Mr. Amory, who was busily occupied over 
at the stables, and that young gentleman pres- 
ently made his appearance, looking somewhat 
dusty and fatigued. The men were packing for 
the move and getting ready for their afternoon 
exhibition at one and the same time, he ex- 
plained. Then Yinton came out, called his sub- 
altern to one side, and gave him some instruc- 
tions in his quiet way, and no sooner had he 
finished than Amory faced about and went out 
of the room like a shot. Then for the first time 
I had a chance to speak to Vinton and ask after 
the ladies. 

" Very well ; at least Miss Summers is, de- 
spite her natural concern at our sudden taking 
oflf " 

" Why, you are not going !" I interrupted. 

" Yes," he answered. " As far as Memphis, 
at least. Then I shall leave the troop to Amory 
and make for Sandbrook, whither the judge and 
the ladies will start in a few days. That is," he 
concluded, with a smile, " unless some new freak 
takes Miss Kitty Carrington. That little lady 
is ready to tear her pretty hair out by the hand- 
ful this morning. She did not come to breakfast 
at all, and I fancy she had an unusually sharp 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 283 

skirmisTi unth Amory last night. By the way, 
I've got a note for him, and he's gone, — gone 
clear to the foot of Canal Street, too, to look at 
the accommodations on one of those smaller 
steamers, — and I was enjoined to give it to him 
at once." 

" Give it to me ; I'll take it," said I, all eager- 
ness. " What hoat will he be looking at ? I'll 
get there in short order." 

"He ought to be back here by noon," said 
Vinton. " It will take him not more than an 
hour." 

But I was eager to see Mars myself. The note 
must be from Kitty, I argued; and so, indeed, I 
knew it to be, from the dainty envelope and 
superscription when the major drew it forth. 
My theory was that I could get that note to him 
in less than twenty minutes, and probably be the 
bearer of peace propositions. It was too alluring 
a prospect; besides, I was tired of waiting around 
headquarters doing nothing. Vinton saw my 
eagerness, smiled, gave me his consent and the 
note, and in half an hour I was at the levee and 
aboard the " Indiana." Mars had been there 
and gone. So much for my officiousness. 

This time I took a cab, drove rapidly back to 
headquarters. N^either Vinton nor Amory was 
there. Mr. Parker said that the latter had gal- 
loped up not fifteen minutes after I left, reported 
that the " Indiana" could not take sixty horses. 



284 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

and was oif again, he knew not whither. Vinton 
had gone to the stables. Thither I followed. 

" The major has just driven oft" in the quarter- 
master's ambulance, and they're gone to look at 
some steamboat," said the corporal at the gate. 
" The lieutenant's horse is back, sir, but he's 
gone away too." 

This was a complication. It was after twelve. 
The review was to come off at three. I wanted 
to go down and invite the ladies to drive with 
me to see it. But how could I face Kitty Car- 
rington with that undelivered note ? Over to 
Amory's house was the next venture. New de- 
spair. He and his mother had taken a street- 
car and gone up-town only a few minutes before 
I arrived. Now, what on earth could I do? 

" The lieutenant's horse was to be sent to his 
quarters," the corporal had informed me, " at 
quarter before three, and the lieutenant probably 
would not be back at the stables again before 
that time." 

For the next hour Mr. G. S. Brandon was as 
miserable a man as the city contained. No one 
at headquarters could tell where Amory had 
gone. No one knew when Vinton would be 
back. I fumed and fidgeted around the office 
some few minutes. Neither Colonel Newhall 
nor Mr. Parker could help me out in the least. 
There was no telling where to look for Amory. 
Vinton might be found down along the levee, 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 285 

but wliat good would that do? Twice the old 
general came trudging into the aide-de-camp'a 
room, and looked at me with suspicious eyes 
from under his shaggy eyebrows, — ray ill-con- 
cealed impatience and repeated inquiries made 
him irritable, or my undesired presence during 
business hours was a nuisance to him, perhaps; 
at all events, after I had for the tenth time, 
probably, repeated my hopeless remark of won- 
derment as to where that young gentleman could 
have gone, just as the general came promenading 
into the room with hands clasped behind his back 
and his head bent upon his breast, as we New 
Orleans people had grown accustomed to seeing 
or hearing of him, the old soldier stopped short, 
and, raising his head, testily exclaimed, — 

" Mr. Brandon, what is the matter? Does that 
young officer owe you any money ?" 

"Money, sir? ]^o, sir!" I answered, in all 
haste and half indignation. " By heavens ! I 
wish that were the matter. The boot is on the 
other leg, general. I owe him something more 
than money. A letter, sir, — a letter from a 
young lady, and I undertook to deliver it two 
hours ago." 

April sunshine bursting through storm-cloud 
could not more quickly soften and irradiate the 
face of nature than that wonderful smile of the 
old general's could lighten every lineament. 
Who that ever saw it could foro:et it ? It beamed 



286 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

from the wrinkles around the kind old eyes. It 
flashed from his even teeth. It dimpled his 
cheeks into a thousand merry lights and shadows. 
It was sunshine itself, and with it all the old 
courtly manner instantly returned. 

" I beg your pardon, sir. I beg his pardon, sir. 
God bless my soul, what an inexcusable blunder ! 
A note from a young lady. That charming little 
friend of Major Vinton's ? Here, Parker, you 
go. You see if you can't find him, sir. Bring 
him here, sir. Help Mr. Brandon any way you 
can, sir. God bless my soul, what a blunder!" 
And by this time we were all laughing too heart- 
ily for further words. My indignant and im- 
petuous reply had virtually betrayed the situa- 
tion. 

My cab being still at the door I decided to 
hurry right down to Royal Street, notify the ladies 
of the coming review, and of the fact that the 
troop would not sail until the following day, 
though I felt sure Vinton had done that ; then I 
could return to headquarters. Meantime that 
precious note was placed in Parker's hands. 

Whirling across Canal Street, the cab was just 
turning into Royal when I caught sight of Miss 
Summers and Harrod on the banquette, and 
obedient to my shout the driver pulled up. They 
turned back to greet me. Yes, Vinton had sent 
word about the review and the good news that 
there was yet a day before they could sail. The 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 287 

colonel and his sister were going to attend te 
some business on Canal Street, and hurry back 
to meet him at the lodgings at half-past two ; then 
they would all drive up to see the review near 
Tivoli Circle. Would I join them ? Amory was 
to command the troop, as the doctor thought 
Major Yinton not yet strong enough to ride. 
But where was Amory ? had I seen him ? 

All this was asked rapidly, as time was short, 
and almost as rapidly I learned that Kitty was at 
home, and Pauline's eyes plainly said waiting 
and anxious. I decided on driving thither at 
once and confessing the enormity of my sin of 
omission. I would find her in their kind land- 
lady's parlor, said Miss Summers. So in I went. 

In ten minutes Kitty Carrington fluttered into 
the parlor where I was awaiting her. No need 
to tell that hers had been a night of unhappiness, 
a day of bitter anxiety. Her sweet face was very 
pale and wan, her eyes red with weeping. How 
to break my news I did not know. She looked 
wonderingly, wistfully, at the solemnity of my 
face, gave me her hand with hardly a word of 
greeting, and stood by the table waiting for me 
to tell my errand, forgetful of the civility of ask- 
ing me to be seated. 

" Miss Kitty, I am in great trouble. Nearly 
three hours ago I volunteered to hurry down to 
the levee with a letter that Major Yinton had for 
Mr. Amory, but Mr. Amory and I missed each 



288 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

other, have missed each other ever since. He 
has gone somewhere with his mother, and yet 
must be back in time for the review, but I felt 
certain that letter ought to get to him at once. 
'Yet you know they do not sail until to-morrow, 
do you not?" 

Her head was averted, her slight form was 
quivering and trembling, her bosom heaving vio- 
lently in the effort to control the sob that, despite 
all struggles, burst from her lips. She had been 
waiting for him all the morning. In another 
moment, for all answer, she had thrown herself 
upon the sofa, and was weeping in a wild passion 
of unrestrained misery. Poor little motherless 
Kit ! and this was my doing. 

In vain I strove to soothe her. In vain I pro- 
tested that the letter would soon be in his hands, 
that no possible harm could come from the delay. 
!N"ay, in my eagerness and ludicrous distress I 
believe I knelt and strove to draw her hands away 
from her face. Then she hurriedly arose, rushed 
to the window, and leaning her arms upon the 
casement, and bowing her pretty head upon her 
hands, sobbed wildly. Good heavens ! what could 
such an old idiot do ? I was powerless, helpless, 
wretched. 

Suddenly there came a springy step along the 
lower passage, a quick, bounding footfall on the 
•stair, the clink of spurred heels upon the matting 
in the hall, and Frank Amory, with a world of 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 289 

sunshine in his glad youno; face, stood at the door- 
way. One glance showed him where she stood, 
still weeping piteously, still blind to his jDresence. 
One spring took him half across the room, one 
second to her side. I heard but one quick, low- 
toned, almost ecstatic cry. 

" Kitty ! darling ! Forgive me !" 

I saw his arms enfold her. I saw her raise her 
head, startled, amazed. Saw one wondering 
flash of light and joy in the tear-dimmed eyes, 
but of what happened next I have no knowledge, 
not even conjecture. For once in his life Mr. 
Brandon had the decency not to look, the sagac- 
ity to know that he was no longer needed, if in- 
deed he ever had been, and the presence of mind 
to take himself oif. 



86 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Later that lovely afternoon an open carriage 
whirled up St. Charles Street towards old Tivoli 
Circle. Its occupants were Miss Summers and 
Kitty Carrington, Colonel Summers and myself. 
At the Circle we were joined by another, in 

which were seated Mrs. Amory, Madame II , 

and Major Vinton. We were late, it seems, and 
the review had already begun, so there was no 
time for conversation between the carriage- 
loads ; but smiles and nods and waving hands 
conveyed cheery greeting, and Kitty's cheeks 
flamed ; her eyes, half veiled as though in shy 
emotion, followed Mrs. Amory 's kindly face 
until their carriage fell behind ; then, detecting 
me as usual in my occupation of watching her, 
she colored still more vividly, and looking 
bravely, saucily up into my face, remarked, — 

" "Well, Mr. Brandon, have you nothing to say 
to me? Are you aware that you have not even 
remarked upon the beauty of the weather this 
afternoon ?" 

And this was from the girl whom, hardly two 
hours before, I had seen plunged in the depths 
of woe and dejection. Verily, there was nothing 
290 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 291 

I could say. Such alternations of smiles and 
tears, storm and sunshine, exceeded my compre- 
hension; but it was not a tax upon even my 
poor powers of discernment to see that my little 
heroine was now blissfully, radiantly, joyously 
happy. 

Suddenly our carriage slackened speed. Crowds 
began to appear on the sidewalks of the broad, 
dusty thoroughfare. We were off" the pavement 
now, and driving along the " dirtroad" of upper 
St. Charles Street. I could hear a burst of 
martial music somewhere ahead, and presently 
Pauline exclaimed, " Here are the cavalry !" 

Kitty, sitting on the indicated side, had said 
never a word. The next moment we rode past 
the line of troopers sitting stolidly on their horses 
and looking blankly into space ahead of them. 
Then, riding backwards as I was, I saw Kitty's 
soft cheek flushing redder, and happening to ex- 
tend my left arm outwards at that instant, my 
hand almost came in contact with the nose of a 
tall chestnut sorrel, much to that sorrel's disgust, 
for he set back his ears and glanced savagely at 
me; but by that time, I had lost all interest in 
him and was gazing in amaze at his rider. For 
something absolutely incomprehensible, com- 
mend me to military love-making! Less than 
two hours ago I had bolted out of a room down- 
town leaving that deliciously pretty young girl 
opposite me sobbing in the arms of Frank 



292 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

Amory, who, with all a devoted lover's tenderness, 
was striving to comfort her. Yet here she sat, 
apparently indifferent ; yet there he sat on that 
very horse whose feelings I had outraged, and 
though we — no, she — was right under his eyes, — 
so close that she could stroke his charg-er's mane 
with her little hand, — he never -so much as 
glanced at her. Mr. Frank Amory, as com- 
manding officer of his troop on review, actually 
disdained to look at his lady-love. 

'■'■ Noio if at any time," thought I, "this little 
imp of coquetry will flash into flame and wither 
him when they meet, — perhaps flirt with me, 
fauie de mieux, meantime," hut to my utter 
amaze Miss Kitty took it as admirably as did 
Pauline. Each gave him one quick, demure, 
satisfied little look, as much as to say, " All 
right, Frank, I understand." They had learned 
their tactics already, I suppose, and I — was an 
inferior being, unable to appreciate the situatioi. 
in the least. 

The review went oif all right, I also suppose. 
It was all a blank to me. The general and his 
aides rode down the line and our carriages had 
to get out of the way in a hurry. Then the 
troops marched over to Camp Street and down 
that thoroughfare, giving a marching salute as 
they passed headquarters. We sat in our vehicles 
on the opposite side of the street, and I simply 
Btared when Amory lowered his sabre in sweep- 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 293 

ing, graceful salute and positively looked away 
from us, and at his chief. Why ! up to this time 
I had been ready to take his part, and upbraid 
Kitty whenever there had been the faintest dif- 
ference between them. Now, now, I actually 
wanted her to resent his conduct ; and, with the 
unerring inconsistency of feminine nature, she 
did nothing of the kind. The instant the march 
was over, Frank Amory came trotting up beside 
us, — a glad, glorious light in his brave young 
eyes, — sprang from his saddle and to her side. 
The others he did not appear to see at all. Ilis 
eyes were for her alone, for her in all their boy- 
ish adoration, in all their glowing pride and ten- 
derness. Tearing off his gauntlet, he clasped 
her hand before a word was said, and she looked 
shyly, yet steadfastly, down into his transfigured 
face. 

" I shall be down right after stables ; mother 
will come sooner," was all he said. Then he 
condescended to notice the rest of us. 

Right after stables indeed ! Could you not 
even resent thai, Kitty Carrington ? "Were you 
already so abject that a newly-won lover dare 
tell you that after his horses were seen to he 
would look after you ? Are you already falling 
into the cavalry groove ? learning that unwritten 
creed that puts the care of his mount as the 
corner-stone of a trooper's temple ? 

In a state of daze I drove homeward with the 
26* 



294 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

ladies. ITobody talked much. Everybody was 
happy except my perturbed self. Pauline and 
Kitty sat hand in hand. We reached the lodg- 
ings, and were but a few moments in the parlor 
when Yinton appeared at the door ushering Mrs. 
Amory. Kitty was at the window arranging 
some flowers, but turned instantly, and, blushing 
like one of her own rosebuds, walked rapidly 
across the room, looking shyly up into the elder 
lady's face. How could I help seeing the moist- 
ened eye, the slightly quivering lip, when Mrs. 
Amory bent and, with one softly-spoken word, 
" dear," kissed the bonny face. 

We masculines took ourselves off for a while. 
It was plain the women had much to talk about, 
and when they have, the sooner husbands, 
brothers, and lovers leave, the better for all con- 
cerned. 

" Mr. Brandon," said the major, as we settled 
ourselves on the back veranda, "it looks as 
though your prognostication had come true. 
Our Sandbrook Ku-Klux affair has brought its 
romance with it." 

" Two of them, major ! Two of them ! "We 
might call them, in view of your modest estimate 
of army attractions, ' Miss Summers' Sacrifice* 
and, and " 

" Kitty's Conquest," said Harrod. 

Swiftly through a tawny waste of whirling 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 296 

waters a great steamer ploughs its way. From 
towering smoke-stacks volumes of smoke stream 
back along the tumbling wake and settle on the 
low-lying shores. Breasting the torrent, we have 
rushed past crowded levee, past sloop, and ship, 
and shallop, past steamers of every class and 
build, ocean cruisers, river monarchs, bayou 
traders, swamp prowlers. Lordly up-stream 
packets lead or follow ; churches, domes, chim- 
neys, cotton-presses, elevators, warehouses, give 
way to low, one-storied, whitewashed cottages, 
or deep-veranda'd frame homesteads on the one 
side, to flat and open plantations on the other. 
Eastward there is naught to span the horizon 
but one far-reaching level of swamp or trem- 
bling prairie. Westward, two miles back from 
the river-bank, bold barriers of forest, dense, 
dark, and impenetrable, shut off the view. In 
front lies the eddying, swirling, boiling bosom 
of the Mississippi, — the winding highway to the 
North, — sweeping in majestic curve through 
shores of shining green. Behind us, nestling 
along the grand arcs of its doubling bend, l^ew 
Orleans and Algiers, close clinging to the mighty 
stream that at once threatens and cajoles. The 
river is master here, yet dreams not of his 
power. 

Precious freight our steamer bears this bright 
and balmy eve. Proud of its strength and grace, 
it surges ahead, rumbling in the vast caverns of 



296 KITTrS CONqUEST. 

its seething furnaces, panting in the depths of 
its powerful lungs, straining with muscles that 
glory in their task, hurling aside from iron-shod 
beak the burdened billows of the opposing river. 
Black as Erebus the clouds of smoke from tower- 
ing chimneys, white as snow the screaming 
steam-jets, deep and mellow the note of signal- 
bell, clear, ringing, rollicking the farewell chorus 
of our swarthy crew. Boom ! goes the roar of 
saucy little field-piece in parting salutation to 
the sun, redly sinking through the forest to our 
left, and then, from the lower deck, what un- 
accustomed sound is that? A trumpet, a cavalry 
trumpet sounds the final tribute to departing day, 
and a moment later a young oflicer comes spring- 
ing from below and joins our group upon the 
hurricane-deck. 

Here enjoying the scene, the gliding rush of 
our gallant craft, the balmy softness of the South- 
ern air, we are seated, an almost silent party of 
seven. We are Mrs. Amory, Miss Summers, and 
Kitty; Major Vinton, Mr. Amory, Harrod, and 
myself. We are fellow-passengers for the even- 
ing only. The troop, men and horses both, is 
billeted below, and under command of its young 
lieutenant goes through to St. Louis, thence up 
the Missouri to its new sphere of duties in the 
far Northwest. Vinton is a passenger as far as 
Memphis, where escorting Mrs. Amory, he takes 
the train to Washington The rest of us, Pauline, 



KITTY'S CONQUEST. 297 

Kitty, Harrod, and I, go only up to Donaldsonville, 
where we arrive late at night, and take the local 
packet back to the city. In all the excitement 
and perturbation consequent upon the sudden 
departure of the troop ; in all the hurry of prep- 
aration, requiring as it did the attention of both 
officers, there was no time for the interviews, the 
fond partings, the " sweet sorrows" incident to 
such occasions. An unusual thing occurred, — a 
bright idea struck Mr. Brandon. He proposed 
that the quartette should accompany the troop a 
short way up the river and there drink with them 
the stirrup-cup ; and at last a proposition of Mr. 
Brandon's was regarded worthy of acceptance. 
So it happens that we are here together. 

Evening comes on apace, and while Harrod is 
smoking somewhere forward, and our cavalry- 
men are paired off and slowly promenading the 
deck with the ladies of their love, Mrs. Amory 
and I are chatting quietly in the brilliant saloon, 
and we are talking of Mars. Her voice is soft 
and tremulous ; her face is full of trust and 
peace ; her eyes fondly follow him and the sweet, 
girlish form that hangs upon his arm as they 
stroll forward again after a few loving words with 
her. 

" You have been a good friend to my boy, Mr. 
Brandon, and you will not forget him now on 
the distant frontier. It will be late in the fall 
before he can come East." 



298 KITTrS CONQUEST. 

" So long as that ! I had cherished some wild 
Qotion that we might have a double ceremony, 
when the major and Miss Summers are mar- 
ried." 

" No. That would be too precipitate. She is 
very young yet ; so is Frank for that matter, but 
he is thoroughly in earnest. It is not that I an- 
ticipate any change of feeling, but it is best for 
her sake there should be no undue haste. She 
will spend the time with Miss Summers until 
that wedding comes off, then visit relations in the 
North during the summer. Then ' Aunt Mary' 
will doubtless claim her. You know that as yet 
' Aunt Mary' has had no intimation of what has 
been going on. Indeed, but for their sudden or- 
ders for the field, I doubt very much if the young 
people would have settled their outstanding dif- 
ferences. She is a lovely child at heart, and 
Frank has been a truthful and a devoted son," — 
the dimmed eyes are filling now, and a tear starts 
slowly down the warm cheek, — '- but he is im- 
pulsive, impetuous, quick, and sensitive, and, 
sweet as Kitty is, she has no little coquetry. It 
will not all be smiles and sunshine, ' bread and 
butter and kisses,' Mr. Brandon." 

"Perhaps not, dear lady, perhaps not, yet I 
have no fear. He is true and brave and stanch 
as steel, and she is loving. God bless them I" 

" Amen." 



KITTrS CONQUEST. 299 

Late at night. The lights of Donaldsonville 
lie over our larboard bow. The broad river 
glistens in the glorious sheen of silvery light from 
the moon aloft. "We are gathered in the captain's 
cabin on the texas and our glasses are filled. 
Moet and Chandon sparkles over the brim. 

" My charger is jangling his bridle and chain, 

The moment is nearing, dear love, we must sever, 
But pour out the wine, that thy lover may drain 
A last stirrup-cup to his true maiden ever." 

Mr. Brandon has the floor, and eloquence, 
forensic, judicial, social, is fled. His idea is to 
say something stirring and appropriate, but his 
heart fails him. He can only stammer, " Bo7i 
voyage, boys, and safe and speedy return !" Then 
he slinks out into the shadow of the huge paddle- 
box, a vanquished man. 

What a thundering uproar is made by the sig- 
nal-whistle of these Mississippi steamers ! The 
boat fairly quivers from stem to stern in response 
to the atmospheric disturbance created by the 
long-drawn blasts. For two minutes at least, in 
protracted, resounding, deep bellowing roar, that 
immense clarion heralds our approach to drowsy 
Donaldsonville. Three long-drawn blasts of 
equal length, and while they din upon the drum 
of the sensitive ear, not another sound can be 
heard. I clasp my hands to my head and shud- 
deringly cling to the guards. All other sensations 



300 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

are deadened. Quick light footsteps approach, 
but I hear them not. Two young hearts are 
painfully beating close behind me, but I know it 
not. Clasping arms and quivering lips are bid- 
ding fond farewell so near that, could I but put 
one hand around the corner of the narrow pas- 
sage-way, it would light on a cavalry shoulder- 
strap (the right shoulder, for the other is pre- 
empted), but I see it not. Not until the deafening 
uproar ceases with sudden jerk, am I aware of 
what is going on almost at my invisible elbow. 
I hear a long-drawn sibilant something that is 
not a whistle, is not a hiss, yet something like ; I 
hear a plaintive sob ; I hear a deep, manly voice, 
tremulous in its tenderness. And again the mis- 
erable conviction flashes over me that I'm just 
where I ought not to be, — am not supposed to 
be, — and yet cannot get out without ruining the 
impressive climax. Forgive me, Kitty ! Forgive 
me, Frank ! For years I've kept your secret. For 
years you never suspected that you were over- 
heard. Nearly all your story was jotted down 
that very spring, but not this part, not this ; and 
now that the brief chronicle is wellnigh closed, — 
now that " this part" is as old a story as the rest, 
and as the rest would be utterly incomplete with- 
out just such a finale, can you not find it in your 
hearts to forgive me for hearing your sweet and 
sad and sacred farewell ? It was hard, it was 
bitter trial ; it was so sudden, so brief. Yet my 



KITTTS CONQUEST. 30I 

heart went out to you, gallant and faithful young 
Boldier, when I heard these words, " Five long 
months at least, my darling. You will be true 
to me, as, God knows, I will be to you ?" 

And you, Kitty, rampant little rebel Kit, you 
whom I had seen all coquetry, all mischief, all 
tormenting, ivas it your voice, low, tremulous, 
fond as his own, that I heard murmur, " Yes, 
even if it were years." 

A few moments more and four of us are stand- 
ing on the wharf-boat, while the steamer, a bril- 
liant illumination, ploughs and churns her way out 
into the broad moonlit stream. Pauline is waving 
her handkerchief to the group of three standing 
by the flag-staff over the stern. Kitty, leaning 
on my arm, trembles, but says no word. Tears 
Btill cling to the long, fringing lashes. Lovely 
are the humid eyes, the soft rounded cheek, the 
parted lips. She throws one kiss with her little 
white hand, and, as the gallant steamer fades 
away in the distance, her myriad lights blending 
into one meteoric blaze upon the bosom of the 
waters, the cousins seek each other's eyes. Pau- 
line bends and kisses the smooth white brow 
and bravely drives back her own tears. Kitty 
leans her bonny head one moment upon the 
sheltering arm that is then so lovingly thrown 
around her, relieving mine, and lays her little 
hand upon her shoulder. A new ring glistens 
in the moonlight. Tiny crossed sabres stand 



302 KITTY'S CONQUEST. 

boldly in relief upon the gold ; beneath them a 
bursting shell, above them gleams the polished 
stone with its sculptured motto. I know it well. 
'Tis Amory's class ring, and his is the proud 
device, ^^ Loyauie m'oblige." 



THE END. 



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12mo. Cloth. $1.2 5. 



" It is the pretty story of how a bachelor successfully woos a young girt, 
and gives her for a wedding gift ' Erlach Court,' where they first met. The 
story is prettily told, with an unaffectedness, smoothness, and unrestraint in its 
style that is verj' pleasing. The characters are fairly true to life, drawn with 
freshness and but little of the conventional." — Chicago Times. 

" This is one of those delightful German translations which have long since 
given the translator an assured place among our American immortals. Her 
works, like those of IMiss Wormley, the translator of Balzac, rise above the 
plane of translation and are endowed with the virtues of original authorship. 
' Erlach Court' well sustains Mrs. Wister's reputation." — Germantown 
Telegraph. 

" The translations, or perhaps it would be more exact to say the adapta- 
tions, of Mrs. A. L. Wister are always capital reading. If it chances that there 
is anything wanting in the original she is able to supply it, and, as a matter of 
fact, there are few novels which she sets over into English without improving 
them. ' Erlach Court,' by Ossip Schubin, is the latest work upon which she has 
exercised her skill, and it is in a vein which is always popular. It is a love- 
story of the sort which never fails to please, and its setting is amid the fashion- 
able circles of Paris to a great e.xtent, so that there is large opportunity for the 
description of social splendors. The story is readable and excellent of its kind, 
and it has lost none of its virtues by passing through Mrs. Wister's skilful 
hands." — Boston Courier. 



*^ For sale by all Booksellers, or will be sent by the Publishers , post-paid, 
on receipt of the price. 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, 

71S-717 MARKET STREET, 
PHILADELPHIA. PA. 



"0 Till, MI AUSTRIA !" 

TRANSLATED BY 

MRS. A. I.. WISTBR, 

From the German of OSSIP SCHUBIN, author of 
"Erlach Court," etc. 



12mo. Cloth. $1.25. 



"A decidedly strong story ; and Mrs. Wister has, as is usual 
with her, made a copious translation." — N. V. Tribune. 

"The characters are drawn with life-like fidelity, and some 
of the delineations of domestic life in good society are especially 
delightful. There is a touch of genuine humanity about them 
that leaves the most pleasing impression upon the mind." — 
Boston Home Journal. 

"A more charming story, or one more charmingly told, is not 
often met with. It has at once all the characteristics of a 
German story, and all the virility of Mrs. Wister's work as 
a translator." — Phila. Times. 

"Mrs. Wister's literary judgment has not been at fault in 
choosing to add this to her long list of excellent German novels. 
The scene of the story is laid chiefly in Bohemia, and the author 
has succeeded in catching and preserving for her readers the 
local atmosphere and color to a quite unusual degree. Much 
of the descriptive writing and many of the glimpses of scenery 
and of nature in all her aspects and moods are done with ad- 
mirable insight and sympathy. Herein, indeed, will be found 
the great literaiy charm of the book." — Boston Courier. 



*.x.* For sale hy all Booksellers, or will be sent, prepaid, on 
receipt of the price, by the publishers. 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, 

715 and 717 Market St, Philadelphia. 



Dr. Rameau. 



LIPPINCOTT'S AUTHORIZED EDITION. 



Translated by Mrs. Cashel Hoey. A New Novel. By 
Georges Ohnet. Illustrated. i2mo. Paper binding, 
50 cents. Extra cloth, $i.oo. 



" It is one of the really strong — one might say powerful — 
novels of the day." — Chicago Ti7)ies. 

" Georges Ohnet was a master without this work, but he is a 
greater master for having written it." — Boston Globe. 

" The novel is earnest and strong, decidedly the best work yet 
accomplished by the writer." — New York Honie Journal. 

" This fascinating story is passionate, yet thoughtful, and full 
of that sympathy for human weakness which wins the heart of the 
reader at once and puts him en 7-apport with the author. We 
sincerely recommend this ennobling book to all of our readers, but 
especially to those who are interested in the theological novels 
which are so amazingly popular at present." — Detroit Commercial 
Advertiser. 

" Georges Ohnet has depicted, with a remarkable blending 
of boldness and delicacy, the career of a distinguished man of 
science, who also is an atheist, and who is led to believe in God 
by his experiences and trials. The faithlessness of his wife is a 
prominent element of the plot, yet this is portrayed with such 
wisdom that its sinfulness is caused to contribute much to the 
pathos and moral power of the story. The minor characters are 
almost as fine as the principal ones." — Boston Congregationalist. 



%* For sale by all Booksellers, or will be sent by the Publishers , post-paid^ 
on receipt of the price. 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, 

71S-717 MARKET STREET, 
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 



/^NTOINETTE; 

OR, 

. • . The Marl-Pit Mystery 

By Georges Ohnet, author of " Dr. Rameau." Twelve 
Illustrations. i2mo. Cloth, $i.oo. Paper, 50 cents. 



" In plot, character, dramatic power, style, and thought the 
book represents what is best in contemporary French fiction. It 
is the work of a thorough artist, who honors his art, and who 
does not bid for popularity at the expense of the proprieties, and 
who does not seek for originality in mere eccentricity. This 
novel commends itself strongly to the reader by the skill with 
which its plot is woven, by its fine analysis of motives, its vivid 
force in description, and its quality as a work of literary art ; and 
that it must be appreciated at its best value by all thoughtful 
readers is unquestionable." — Boston Gazette. 

" There are few novels in any tongue which more emphasize 
strength and nobility of character and a purity of life than 
'Antoinette.' . . . Few recent works of fiction inspire a reader 
with such generous and lofty ideas of life and action." — Chicago 
Times. 

" A beautiful and yet forceful story, well conceived and 
splendidly told. It is a novel of a thousand, and one that can be 
read again and again, and enjoyed fully with every reading." — 
Nashville (Tenn.) American. 



%* For sale by all Booksellers, or will be sent by the Publishers, post-paid, 
on receipt of the price. 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, 

71S-717 MARKET STREET, 
PHILADELPHIA. 



RARE BOOK 
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